Tablet Shipments into the U.S. Education Sector Doubled in 2012

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While personal computers are facing weak demand and reduced budgets in the U.S. education sector tablets are experiencing exceptionally strong interest among education stakeholders from school managers teachers and governments to parents and students.

New IDC research shows that shipments of client devices (notebooks, desktops and tablets) to the U.S. education sector grew 15.3% year over year in 2012 with volume nearing 8.5 million units. IDC estimates the value of these shipments at $5 billion.

Much of this growth can be attributed to tablet shipments, which grew 103% year over year in 2012. Strong demand for these devices increased the share of tablets in the education client device market from 19.4% in 2011 to more than 35% in 2012, and that momentum will continue as the 2013 back-to-school season approaches.

The impetus to go digital in the education sector can be found among virtually all U.S. education institutions as well as around the world. Government mandates from all levels to digitize education, the relatively low cost of tablets, and a proliferation of funding sources are providing an enormous push to tablet adoption, effectively bringing the concept of one device per student closer to reality.

"While tablet sales to the education sector doubled from 2011 to 2012, we are only seeing the beginning of a much greater push that is likely to last for years. As a result, we remain highly optimistic about sustained tablet growth in education, particularly as prices decline due to greater competition," said David Daoud, Research Director, Personal Computers at IDC.

Leading tablet vendors are succeeding not just because of user interest in the devices, but also because they are beginning to work in partnership with school systems to execute strategies that encompass educational content as well as the content delivery platforms. In this context, IDC expects to see a new set of stakeholders emerge as new ideas and partnerships enable them to offer more than just hardware.

"Tablet vendors that expect to compete in the education market need to be thinking beyond just hardware speeds and feeds," said Tom Mainelli, Research Director, Tablets at IDC. "We expect K-12 in particular to be at the center of new innovations where partnerships between hardware makers, content owners, solution providers and others will lead to many new educational opportunities."

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