Gartner Has No Idea How Many iPads Will Sell

IT consulting firm Gartner said today that global PC shipments will increase by 20% this year:

Worldwide PC shipments are projected to total 366.1 million units in 2010, a 19.7 percent increase from 305.8 million units shipped in 2009, according to the latest preliminary forecast by Gartner, Inc. Worldwide PC spendingis forecast to reach $245 billion in 2010, up 12.2 percent from 2009.

That kind of projection is relatively safe given that the economy is improving and there's pent up demand among consumers and enterprises (especially) for new machines. But Gartner goes on to say:

Apple's announcement of its upcoming iPad has created much discussion in the marketplace regarding market opportunities for traditional tablet PCs and next-generation tablet devices, such as the iPad. Gartner's initial thinking is that vendors could ship up to 10.5 million traditional tablets and next-generation tablet devices worldwide in 2010.

Here's where it all breaks down and falls apart.

Tablet computers have historically failed. The Kindle is a hit but it's not a PC. The many competitive eReaders (also not PCs) have yet to enter the market (except Nook and Sony effectively). The iPad (also not a PC) will be successful in my view but its success is highly speculative at best right now. 

There will be a range of Android tablets (Nook is one such device) that may succeed (depending on price). These are also not PCs.

True tablet PCs -- flat panels or slates running Windows 7 -- are again destined to fail. That's because people will opt for Windows 7 netbooks or laptops instead, which are more functional. Tablet computers such as the HP Windows 7 device unveiled at CES are not going to sell (unless they're dirt cheap).

As for the non-PC iPad and its non-PC slate competitors (other than Kindle and Nook), any projected sales figures are completely speculative and pulled from the ether or someone's posterior.