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.