High Tide for Tablets May Strand Many Makers
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The coming high tide in tablet computer adoption won't lift all makers, a new report says. Even though tablet sales are predicted to eclipse those of PCs in a few years, the rising popularity of the devices doesn't promise corresponding gains for all manufacturers. In the tablet world, iPad will still be the name of the game.
And a pretty big game it is. Tablets in use in the U.S. will climb from 25 million in 2011 to more than 134 million in 2015, according to a new survey conducted by Yankee Group, a research advisory firm. The lion's share of that market will belong to Apple, the survey predicts.
Currently, iPads represent 51 percent of all tablets owned in the U.S., leaving all other makers battling for less than half the overall market. Still, almost 25 percent of respondents who intend to buy a tablet in the next six months say they don’t know what brand they will purchase — presenting a huge opportunity for manufacturers looking to grow their base.
In theory, this creates a window of opportunity for Apple's competitors. But they need to pick up their game if they have any hopes of competing, the report concludes. The portents are not promising.
The Kindle Fire, for example, has cooled with consumers. Those who planned to buy a Kindle Fire in 2011 now own one, bumping ownership up to 7 percent, the report said. But today’s intent to buy has dropped off, falling from 11 percent last year to just 6 percent today.
Samsung is also taking a major hit. Last year, more than 10 percent of consumers owned a Samsung tablet and 8 percent intended to buy one in the next six months. But this year, these figures have fallen to 7 and 4 percent, respectively.
Smaller tablet manufacturers face an even grimmer outlook for playing catch-up ball, the Yankee Group said. Fewer than 4 percent of consumers own a BlackBerry PlayBook or Motorola- or Dell-branded tablet, and just 2 percent say they own an Asus tablet.
"For the second quarter in a row, Apple’s iPad is leading the tablet market, forcing all other competitors to battle for the remaining 49 percent share, said Carl Howe, research VP and head of the devices practice at Yankee Group. "It’s too late to change current ownership, but tablet makers looking to gain on Apple need to start improving their brand visibility and targeting people who don’t already have their minds set on an iPad."