IDC: 17 Million Tablets Shipped Globally In 2010 — Most Were iPads

The number of media tablets that shipped in Q3 grew by 45.1 percent, says analyst IDC, which is to say the introduction of Apple’s iPad was felt mightily. Specifically, about 4.8 million units globally in 3Q10, compared to 3.3 million units in the three months immediately before.

Which is to say that Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) sold even more iPads in the start of the 2010’s second half, as the iPad accounted for roughly 90 percent of the tablets shipped worldwide in that time frame. It remains to be seen whether the Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Android-powered Samsung Galaxy will be able to quickly catch up.

In its forecast, IDC anticipates that nearly 17 million tablet will have been sold by the end of last year. This year, it could grow to 44.6 million tablet shipments, with 40 percent of that being sold in the U.S.

Tablet sales could almost double by 2012, when 70.8 million units should ship worldwide, as more Android-based models emerge, along with other challengers to the iPad’s dominance.

Looking at e-readers, IDC anticipates 2010 to close at 10.8 million units shipped worldwide, 72.4 percent of which will be in the U.S. IDC forecasts 14.7 million units to ship in 2011 and 16.6 million in 2012, as still lower prices meet more colorful displays on the smaller devices.

The e-reader market offers a future glimpse of the what a more diverse tablet market might look like. Amazon’s Kindle dominated early on and it still led in Q3 with more than 1.1 million units shipped and 41.5 percent share of the global market.

Surprisingly, Pandigital, which markets Novel e-readers, came in second to Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) worldwide and just edged out Barnes and Noble (NYSE: BKS). It should be noted that B&N is only shipping in the U.S. in Q3 and is expected to rise quickly, thanks to its hybrid tablet/e-reader, Nook Color, which was unveiled in October.

Although it was a much earlier player — perhaps too early — in the e-reader market, Sony (NYSE: SNE) was a distant number four among the e-reader group, with slightly more than 200,000 units shipped and 8.4 percent worldwide share. Release