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Tablet shipments grow, netbook slows down

Posted: 18 Oct 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Tablet shipments  netbook market 

ABI Research forecasts shipment of just over 1.10 crore media tablets and 4.30 crore netbooks for this year.

These figures are somewhat lower than observers expected at the end of last year based on the diminutive computers' remarkable showing in the period following their introduction. Nonetheless, says ABI Research principal analyst Jeff Orr, "43 million [4.30 crore] netbook shipments are good growth, just not the meteoric pace of the past couple of years."

Part of the drop in demand for netbooks may be laid at the feet of the potentially-competitive media tablets. However tablets are still a long way from the 4-5 crore annual shipments that ABI Research considers the threshold for a "mass market" product — a definition that netbooks still fit.

"Apple has sold a few million iPads in its first quarter, which is great for creating a new market," Orr says. "But early adoption of media tablets is not outpacing netbooks. The iPad average selling price above $650 (Rs.30,352.42) isn't driving mass adoption. Competition, especially on price, is needed."

Apple, which has had the tablet market almost to itself, will soon have company. Samsung will start selling its Galaxy Tab through network operators this year, a distribution model that differentiates it from the iPad. The operators want a piece of the new device market, not simply to provide services. In the US, the Galaxy Tab will be available through all four of the largest operators, which could make it a strong competitor to the iPad. Vodafone will carry it in the UK and possibly elsewhere, as will NTT DoCoMo in Japan.

To date, tablets' use-case is almost entirely consumer-based; the enterprise market for tablets as a real replacement for laptops and smartphones is virtually nonexistent. However, says practice director Kevin Burden, "RIM's new PlayBook tablet may be more palatable to IT managers because at this point it's not a stand-alone device: it needs to be paired with a BlackBerry."

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