Industry analysts at Deloitte have already declared that 2010 is set to be the year of the net tablet, with major computer manufacturers such as Apple, HP/Microsoft and Asus already preparing to launch their own dedicated tablet computers to the consumer market this year.

Tablet computers are nothing new, of course, having been sold and marketed to the business and specialist medical sectors for years. But up to now, such devices have never really taken hold in the consumer market.

Apple, for one, clearly thinks that this situation is about to change drastically in 2010.

Web-connected portable devices – 'NetTabs' or 'iTablets' or whatever we (and the manufacturers) end up calling them - will sell to "tens of millions" of people worldwide this year, according to Deloitte.

NetTab e-readers

Deloitte adds that NetTabs will be popular with network providers, but also that consumers will "demand big upfront subsidies" because these devices will be costlier than smartphones.

As far as ebook readers and ebooks, Deloitte predicts sales of 5 million ebook readers globally by Christmas, though adds that of the 100m ebooks it expects to be sold this year, most will be read on NetTabs, smartphones or PCs.

Then of course, there is the emerging problem of ebook piracy, which publishers will have to learn new ways to combat.

Via The Register