Study Explains Speedy Tablet Influx
By Joseph Palenchar On Mar 7 2011 - 6:01am
WALTHAM, MASS. —
The global consulting firm
PRTM has pointed to several reasons for the large
number of vendors entering the tablet category.
PRTM noted that tablet PC projected growth
rates exceed smartphone growth rates because of
suppliers’ ability to reuse technology already offered
Companies “have been able to leverage proven
capabilities from mobile phones, dramatically reducing
the cost and time to market,” said PRTM
partner Huw Andrews, who authored the tablet
study. “Chipsets, operating systems, application
platforms, touchscreens, channels and business
models are all being reused,” he explained. “This
has helped many aggressive, new companies to
become front-runners.” Of the 30 tablets on sale in
2010, less than 30 percent were offered by global
brands, he pointed out. “This helps to explain the
many announcements at CES by global companies.
Clearly some have been caught dozing and will now
struggle to catch up.
The tablet companies are also attracted by the
market’s potential. The 17 million tablets sold worldwide
in 2010 “established a new product category,”
and 200 million units will be sold annually by 2014,
he said. “This level of growth, four times that of
smartphones and five times that of PCs, establishes
the tablet space as a mobile computing beachhead
where tablet makers can attack both the mobile
phone and laptop fronts.”
As of now, 102 tablets are either on sale or in
development by 64 makers, PRTM said. “With so
many players committing with such unprecedented
speed, the tablet space has become a battlefront
for a blend of new entrants, established PC and mobile
phone makers, and their key global suppliers,”
For example, of the 102 tablets announced to
date, 57 percent use processors powered by Arm,
and 29 percent use Intel, Andrews said. “Both Arm
and Intel view tablets as a new core business as well
as a beachhead to other products. Meeting headon,
Arm is trading on its leadership in enabling mobile
phone processors, Intel on its position in the
Tablets have also become an OS battleground.
Google’s OS has been adopted by 55 percent of
all tablets, while Microsoft’s Windows has been adopted
by 29 percent.
Tablets also represent an app-store battleground,
with Apple boasting 350,000 apps while the Android
Market boasts 230,000 applications, a growing number
of which are usable on tablets, Andrews said.
While these battles continue, tablet manufacturers
are experimenting with a wide variety of screen
sizes from 5 to 10 inches, with 7 and 10 inches being
most popular, Andrews said. At the larger screen
sizes, “watching widescreen video is a good user
experience even though it does not fill the entire
screen, he noted. Manufacturers are also considering
whether new aspect ratios such as 16:9 might
attract new customers. Applications such as email
and gaming work well with the current 4:3 aspect
ratio, but avid viewers of high-definition video would
likely prefer 16:9, he said. In the near term, new entrants
from China, Taiwan, and Korea will more likely
experiment with widescreen form factors, he said.
One challenge to 16:9 adoption is practical.
Widescreen tablets might not fit well in many briefcases
and portfolios tailored to traditional laptop
computers and papers, Andrews explained.