Some of those tablet models won't be on the market within in a year, and some won't even last beyond the four-day show that officially kicks off Thursday, predicted Shawn Dubravac, chief economist for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the show's sponsor.
"Every industry consolidates, and over time we'll see [tablet] consolidation," Dubravac said. "Some won't go beyond the show."
Dubravac predicted more than 80 tablets will be shown at CES, and possibly up to 100. "It's no surprise that tablets will be the key theme at this show," he said.
Many tablet manufacturers have hinted about tablets at CES following last year's April 2010 launch of the 9.7-inch AppleiPad and the October U.S. launch of the 7-inch Galaxy Tab from Samsung, which runs Google's Android OS.
Which tablets will survive will depend heavily on how consumers use them and which tablet models become associated with certain uses, such as whether users favor book reading or video viewing over e-mailing or watching videos, Dubravac said.
"The tablet category is nascent, and manufacturers will have to define user scenarios" to be successful, he said.
It is clear that some tablet makers will differentiate themselves for the education or corporate markets. CEA's survey of 82 tablet users showed that many are buying them and taking into the workplace for work chores, he said.
That survey said that Internet browsing was the most common use for a tablet, followed by e-mail, then watching video and then for reading books, with various other uses trailing behind.
CEA predicts tablet sales will hit about 30 million in 2011, up from 17 million in 2010. By comparison, black and white e-readers should sell about 19 million units in 2011, CEA said -- a high number compared with predictions from some analysts.
Like some other industry analysts, Dubravac said he believes it is very hard to predict whether tablets will cannibalize sales of e-readers, netbooks or laptops.