Mon, May 07, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Companies vie for tablet dominance

ANDROID SLUMPS:Sales of tablets slowed down this quarter, but market leader Apple still increased its share while rivals gear up to fight for the No. 2 spot

Staff writer, with CNA

A steep drop in shipments of all Android-based models has caused the worldwide tablet computer market to miss projections in the first quarter this year, market advisory firm International Data Corp (IDC) said recently.

Global tablet shipments reached 17.4 million units in the first three months of this year, up 120 percent from one year ago and down 38.4 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, IDC said.

The quarterly decline was slightly steeper than IDC’s projection of a 34 percent drop, as the US-based research firm originally predicted a sharp seasonal slowdown from the fourth quarter’s record-breaking 28.2 million units.

Meanwhile, Apple Inc reasserted its dominance in the tablet market this quarter, driving huge shipment totals at a time when all but a few Android vendors saw their numbers drop precipitously after posting large gains during the holiday season.

“Apple’s move to position the iPad as an all-purpose tablet, instead of just a content consumption device, is resonating with consumers, as well as educational and commercial buyers,” said Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for mobile connected devices.

“Its decision to keep a lower-priced iPad 2 in the market after it launched the new iPad in March seems to be paying off as well,” he said.

According to IDC’s report, Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads during the quarter, down from 15.4 million units in the fourth quarter of last year, and increased its worldwide share from 54.7 percent in the same quarter to 68 percent in the first quarter of this year. Inc — which stormed into the market in last year’s fourth quarter to grab second place with 16.8 percent market share on shipments of 4.8 million units — saw its share decline significantly in the first quarter to just over 4 percent and fell into third place.

Samsung Electronics of South Korea took advantage of Amazon’s weakness to regain the No. 2 position, while China’s Lenovo Group (聯想) vaulted into the No. 4 spot, followed by US book retailer Barnes & Noble Inc at No. 5.

“It seems some of the mainstream Android vendors are finally beginning to grasp a fact that Amazon, B&N and Pandigital figured out early on: Namely, to compete in the tablet market with Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points,” Mainelli said.

He expects a new, larger-screened device from Amazon at a typically aggressive price, and that Google Inc will enter the market with an inexpensive tablet co-branded with Asustek Computer Inc (華碩). The tablet has been designed to compete directly on price with Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

The search giant’s new tablet will run a pure version of the Android operating system, whereas the US$199 Kindle Fire runs Amazon’s own forked version of the operating system that cuts Google out of the picture, Mainelli added.

Last month, Asustek said it would launch new tablet PCs sized from 17.78cm to 29.5cm beginning in the April-to-June quarter, with a price range from US$199 to US$599.

The US$199 model is expected to be unveiled next month or in July, the PC maker said, while local media anticipated the new device as its co-branded tablet with Google.

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