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Tablets: Crystal Gazing into the near term future

Posted in Industry updates, Mobile Computing, Mobile Devices and Company Updates by Manas Ganguly on June 30, 2010

A Tablet is defined as devices with or without cellular connectivity and with a 5” or larger screen.

The tablet market is polarized between Apple’s iPad with its 9.7” screen and Dell’s streak, a mini tablet that features a 5” display. Huawei’s S7 Android Tablet is the first amongst many others that sit between the two, at 7” screen. It is aimed at those looking for mobility and a screen size that offers a superior experience to that of a mobile phone.

Gazing into the crystal ball

A few key points on the future of tablet markets in the immediate future (2010-11):

• The OEMs apart from Apple would engage into fierce price competition to establish the Apple apeing “me too” category of tablets.
• Operators in the US and Europe will look to subsidise some devices to test consumer demand and maintain growth in data plans.
• Carriers in the US perceive the tablet as a far bigger opportunity than that of netbooks and are planning subsidies allocation and data plans.
• The sale of tablets would begin to hit notebooks rather than smartphones. The Tablets will complement the Smartphone as a companion device.
• Subsidy will be a major factor in the next phase of the tablet category’s growth.

How Apple would still rule after the crowd gets in

While price cuts and subsidy would be an integral to OEMs to compete with Apple, Apple seems to have taken the pole position and the head start in this Tablet Market. iPad currently had little incentive to encourage iPad subsidy because of a continued robust demand and a leaner supply. Apple is using its head start very fruitfully to gain a clear understanding in consumers’ mind that the iPad is a premium device, unlike other high tier devices which are typically sold at a nominal or zero cost through subsidized mobile channels.

Timing is a critical for Apple iPad and the 4Q, 2010 could be the time when the iPad appears in subsidized channels ahead of the Christmass holiday season. By this time, Apple is likely to have overcome its initial demand spike and will want to broaden adoption and ensure too big a gap doesnot open up between the iPad and rival products. The iPad pricing could prove to be constraint to market opportunity and entry for other players.

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