Apple's iPad, Samsung's Galaxy Tab and RIM's PlayBook are the first examples of a rapidly growing new class of portable computer product -- the Media Tablet.
Compared with other portable computing devices, Media Tablets are optimized around a limited number of content consumption functions -- such as managing pictures, watching TV shows and movies, listening to music, playing games and accessing the web. It is functions such as these that account for the majority of screen time for many portable computing buyers.
According to the latest market study by Generator Research, Apple, along with a range of rival vendors will ship a total of 117 million Media Tablets in 2014. By comparison, shipments of Notebook PCs will exceed 257 million -- but Netbook PC shipments will struggle to reach 48 million.
The development of the Media Tablet market will mean that sales of Tablet PCs, which are mostly based on Microsoft software, and Dedicated e-Readers will have fallen by 61 percent and 55 percent respectively by 2014. Media Tablets will also cause Netbook sales to fall by 20 percent in 2014.
Apple's share of the Media Tablet market, which was around 78 percent in 2010, will fall to around 47 percent by 2014 -- due to aggressive competition between rival vendors who don't want to miss this new high-growth market opportunity.
According to the Generator Research assessment, success in the Media Tablet market will require a new competitive approach.
PC vendors have traditionally focused on hardware technical specifications, but users are demanding that their Media Tablet comes with associated software in the form of an applications (app) store.
Leading vendors will also need to offer branded content and services that work on the user's Media Tablet and Smartphone.