January 11, 2011, 4:54 PM

20% of U.S. consumers will own tablets by 2014, Harris Interactive predicts

A Forrester report says 195 million tablets will be sold between 2010 and 2015.

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Two recent reports talk tablets, and they’re both bullish on the devices.

Harris Interactive predicts one in five U.S. consumers will own a tablet computer by 2014. And consultancy Forrester Research Inc. predicts that, when the final numbers are in for 2010, U.S. consumers will have purchased 10.3 million tablets during the year. Forrester forecasts annual sales of tablets will rise to 82 million by 2015—to reach a cumulative sales total of 195 million between 2010 and 2015.

In its report, “Tablets Will Grow as Fast as MP3 Players,” Forrester predicts that tablets will resemble MP3 players and smartphones more than PCs in that many consumers will upgrade their models with each new release. For example, Forrester forecasts a significant number of iPad buyers will trade up for the second-generation iPad in 2011, and foresees that trend continuing for several years.

Beginning in 2012, more tablets will sell per year than notebooks, Forrester predicts.

Another boost for tablet adoption rates? Falling prices. For example, prices for e-book readers—which Forrester groups with tablets—have fallen nearly two-thirds since Amazon.com debuted its Kindle in 2007. Several e-book readers, including the Kindle, are now available for $139.

Some Apple Inc. iPad competitors, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which uses Google Inc’s Android mobile operating system, have an uphill battle because of price, Forrester says.

We don’t expect the Samsung Galaxy Tab to sell well at its current, contract-free price of $600; but at $249, the price of Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color 7-inch Android tablet, the device would broaden its appeal considerably,” the report notes.

Apple, Forrester adds, will likely remain the premium-priced tablet, but the starting price may fall to $399 this year and $299 in 2012. The iPad currently sells for $499.

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