Tablet Market Predicted at 57 Million Units by 2015

ABI Research sees a bright future for the new market

While the media-tablet market is still not among the most sizable, ABI research already predicts a very bright future ahead of such products. While the total sales of 2010 aren't expected to amount to more than four million, the market itself is predicted to increase by a great deal by 2015. ABI says that, even though the Apple tablet raised the public profile of such devices, the biggest challenge for media tablets in general is grabbing the attention of potential buyers.

The media-tablet market is expected to reach 57 million units per year by 2015. Players that are planning on joining the race are divided into two categories. One is that of traditional computer vendors, such as HP, Asus and Lenovo. The other is that of smaller vendors, such as ICD and Notion Ink. ABI research states that it is those from the latter categories that will have their work cut out for them, because they lack the retail relationships of the larger players.

“The biggest challenge faced by the media tablet category is how they will reach the market and generate awareness among potential buyers. New entrants to this market are at a disadvantage since they lack the retail relationships and network operator agreements already built by the more mature vendors. Surprisingly, Apple may have done them a favor by raising the public profile of the whole media tablet category,” Mr. Jeff Orr, senior analyst, said.

ABI states that the iPad launch helped define the media-tablet category. Media tablets are seen as devices with touchscreens between five and 11 inches, with Wi-Fi connectivity and capabilities for video and gaming. The research firm sees the hardware inside each device as crucial, since there is a rather low number of companies capable of creating strong enough system-on-chip products and accompanying software. Still, the firm does not determine which would be more suited out of ARM chips and x86 processors.

Even with such a popularity surge, however, the ABI Research does not see slate PCs as posing any threat to existing device types, whether they are laptops, cellphones or any other types of mobile devices.

“Apple’s iPad is not the first media tablet. But it does help define this new device category. The main focus of media tablets is entertainment. A tablet will not replace a laptop, netbook or mobile phone, but will remain an additional premium or luxury product for wealthy industrialized markets for at least several years,” Mr. Orr concluded.

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