Out of the Orchard
Think of it as moving from one lowly "fruit" company to more than eighty firms setting up a new system category.
People who viewed them at CES agreed with Marchello, "You are mother, sister, lover, friend, angel, devil, earth, home."
It's a little hard to call these devices computers,though. Depending on the vendor, they will typically include some computer functionality paired with a phone, TV screen, game system, webcam, bottle opener and so forth.
Producers are rushing to squeeze into a market space that barely exists, but folks believe will go through the proverbial roof.
Figure 3: Tablet hockey stick
The growth projections for media and tablet PCs are so enticing they are forcing netbook computers almost out of the picture and many experts claim they'll surpass notebook systems. Okay, 17 million units shipped last year isn't anything to sneeze at, but can the space support over eighty different vendors (and Apple)?
Most folks call anything that looks like an iPad a tablet, but there are really two product segments – media tablets (think iPad) and tablet PCs. Tablets are not a new category. Today's offerings fill a void between four-inch smartphones 13-15-inch notebooks. They've been around for awhile in the form of:
- tablet PCs
- eReaders (Kindle)
- media tablets
- have color displays ranging from five to 14 inches
- processor is an x86 or ARM
- contain a mobile operating system
- have touch interfaces
- have a wide range of applications distributed through their own app stores
- WiFi and/or cellular connectivity
- long battery life
In 2010, portable device sales were 518.5 million units. Here's a break down of this segment:
- 52 percent smartphones
- 38.9 percent notebook computers
- 3.2 percent media tablets
- 5.9 percent other connected CE devices
Last year 82.6 percent of the media tablets sold were iOS devices from Apple. The sliver remaining were Android. Analysts estimate that at the end of this year, the operating system spectrum will grow with Apple continuing to hold the major position.
Note: The iPad mockup image in the upper right is credited to San Francisco Chronicle.
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