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Apps To Take Starring Role As Tablet Shipments Soar

3/21/2011 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — As more media tablets pour into the market
this year, vendors can be expected to start using highprofile
apps as a marketing tool to draw in customers.

The most recent study by IDC regarding media tablet
shipments indicated that the number doubled to more
than 10 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, compared
with the prior quarter.

The research firm reported 10.1 million media tablets
shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter, up from 4.5 million
during the 2010 third quarter. For 2011, IDC is predicting
up to 50 million media tablets will ship worldwide.

However, the quarter saw Apple’s market share dip 20
percent to a still-dominant 73 percent, IDC said, due primarily
to competition from Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, which
garnered 17 percent of the market. This drop is not expected
to continue.

Despite a large influx of new media tablets coming onto
the market later this year, IDC expects Apple’s market
share to range between 70 percent and 80 percent. This
is due to Apple having already put out a second-generation
model, the iPad 2, while the majority of the industry
is still working on entering the field with their first models.

IDC believes Samsung will give up chunks of its market
share as new competitors enter the mix, despite the
launch later this year of a 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab based on
the Android 3.0 OS.
IDC defines a media tablet as having a screen size no
smaller than 5 inches and no larger than 14 inches. It must
use a lightweight operating system like Android or iOS
and be powered by an ARM or x86 processor. IDC considers
a tablet PC as one running a full OS and just an
x86 processor.

“Apps will play a very important role,” Loren Loverde,
IDC’s program VP, worldwide PC tracker program.

“Viewsonic views apps as the ‘gas’ of the tablet market,
said Michael Holstein, the company’s VP, visual solutions
group. “Apple’s success is due to the wealth of apps available
and the same thing is now happening with Android.”

Holstein added that apps bundled with a tablet help deliver
an out-of-the-box positive experience for customers,
and some consumers are knowledgeable enough about
apps to know they want a device that uses an OS with
plentiful apps.

To help deliver this experience, ViewSonic is including
Google’s Mobile Services bundle with its 10.1-inch and
7-inch tablets. The other hot app categories that will draw
customer interest are social networking, photos and music.

Loverde believes vendors will start promoting the hot
apps that operate on their devices to draw attention
in what will quickly become a crowded
market in 2011. This will be particularly true for
new entrants into the field like Hewlett-Packard,
which is using WebOS, an operating system
unique to that company.

Others, like Research In Motion’s (RIM)
BlackBerry, will need to leverage apps that benefit
its core enterprise customers, Loverde said.
RIM is making some progress on the consumer
side of the market with its newer consumerfriendly
BlackBerrys, and this could carry over
when the company rolls out its tablet products.

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