Worldwide tablet sales will exceed 381 million units in 2017, according to new Forrester data released in today’s Global Business And Consumer Tablet Forecast Update, 2013 To 2017. In other words, tablets are here to stay. They have exceeded the status of mass market to join PCs and smartphones as a “mainstay” device. According to the report:

  • The global installed base of tablets will reach 905 million units. Tablets will be used by more than one in eight people on earth, including 29% of online consumers globally.
  • Among online consumers in North America, 60% will own a tablet by 2017. In Europe, 42% of online consumers will own one. While penetration rates won’t reach 25% in aggregate in the developing world by 2017, tablets will have established themselves as universal computing tools in the wealthier Asian markets, including Singapore and South Korea.
  • Of the 381 million units sold by 2017, enterprise purchases will make up 18% — having risen every year as a percentage of sales since the inception of the market.

In an accompanying blog post, J.P. Gownder explains that tablets will play an increasingly critical role at work. Both company-issued and bring-your-own (BYO) tablets will become pervasive in workplaces in developing countries or dynamic regions of developing countries (for example, urban China). In the next few years, employees will be more willing to pay some or all of the cost of their device; vertical scenarios will emerge in areas like healthcare; and specific classes of workers (beyond executives and traveling salespeople) will be issued tablets.