Thanks to the iPad, research firm IDC predicts that 7.6 million "Media Tablets" will be sold this year, and the market will grow at a clip of 57.4% annually until 2014 when sales will climb to 46 million.
IDC uses the term "Media Tablet" to define devices like the iPad or low-function computers running on Android or similar interfaces. It does not include the more traditional "Tablet PC" devices, which it groups in with other full-function laptops.
Specifically, a media tablet is a device with a 7-inch to 12-inch color display with an operating system based on ARM processors, that do not run a traditional computing OS like Windows or Mac OS.
As such, it is a relatively new market. At least, it's new to the vast majority of the population, though early devices that used to be known as UMPCs (Ultra Mobile PCs) were around several years ago.
"The availability of apps unique to media tablets and that differentiate the experience of using one compared with a PC or smartphone will be crucial for driving consumer demand," wrote IDC program director Susan Kevorkian in a statement. "As the category matures and more media tablet-optimized apps become available, IDC expects that media tablets will evolve beyond nice-to-have devices and become necessities for many consumers."
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