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Tablet sales will more than double in the next year, with general-purpose machines taking business from mini notebooks and single-function tablets such as Amazon's Kindle.

The iPad will drive sales of media tablets in 2011, with 54.8 million units projected to ship worldwide according to Gartner compared to 19.5 million tablets this year.

North America will account for more than half of media tablet sales this year, but as they become available elsewhere, this proportion will drop to 43 per cent by 2014.

Gartner vice president of research Carolina Milanesi said in a statement that all-in-one tablets will cannibalize sales of e-readers, gaming devices and media players.

"Mini notebooks will suffer from the strongest cannibalization threat as media tablet average selling prices (ASPs) drop below $300 over the next two years," Milanesi said.

Gartner didn't use the phrase, but it probably meant netbooks.

Analyst ABI research said this week that netbooks were out-shipping tablets this year by a ratio of almost 4:1 with 43 million netbooks estimated to have been shipped compared to 11 million tablets — clearly the analysts use different methods to crunch their data, seeing as how they get different results.

Gartner defines media tablets as slates that support touch and run a lightweight operating system such as iOS, Android, webOS, or Meego, citing the iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab, and Cisco Systems' Cius as examples.

There was no mention of either Windows or the planned Windows tablets due from Microsoft and partners next year. Microsoft is waiting on the availability of Intel's Oak Trail platform in 2011 before it can deliver Windows on tablets in volume.

Gartner, meanwhile, recently predicted open source platforms would dominate smartphones, with Windows slipping in the rankings from fifth to sixth behind Meego. ®

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