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Many More Low-Cost Media Tablets Planned for 2011

Annual media tablet shipments across the globe are forecast to top 120 million units by 2015. While not quite as strong as traditional PC or smartphone annual sales, media tablets are emerging from the shadow of non-handset mobile devices to become a significant product category.

Google Android media tablets have collectively taken 20 percent market share away from the Apple iPad in the last 12 months. However, so far, no single vendor using Android (or any other OS) has been able to mount a significant challenge against the iPad dominant position.

ABI Research mobile devices group director Jeff Orr says, "Many vendors have introduced media tablets, but none are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple. In fact, most have introduced products at prices higher than similarly-configured iPads."

Apple, never a company to be waiting for others, has introduced its second-generation iPad media tablet while keeping product pricing unchanged.

Fragmentation within operating system software is hindering growth of this device category. Application developers must choose an initial software platform and may delay starting development if the market potential is not significant.

The Google Android OS currently has three different software builds deployed across media tablets at the same time. According to ABI's assessment, the benefits of open software platform development have yet to be realized for media tablets.

"De-featured, low-cost media tablets are being introduced by more than fifty vendors in 2011," Orr says. "This will certainly help bolster year-over-year growth for the category, but it also creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years."

A good user experiences and product design are needed to propel this market beyond the early adopter stage. We'll have to wait any see if any brand, other than Apple, will set a new media tablet benchmark in the global marketplace.

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