Android-based media tablets: Do these have a future?

Worldwide media tablet shipments in the second quarter were driven by continued robust demand for Apple's iPad 2, which saw shipments reach 9.3 million units, representing a 68.3% share of the worldwide market (up from 65.7% the previous quarter).

FP Editors September 15, 2011 15:43:18 IST

Tablet computing is growing at a fast clip. Worldwide media tablet shipments rose by an incredible 88.9 percent on a sequential basis and 303.8 percent year on year in the second quarter of calendar 2011 (Q2 2011) to 13.6 million units, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Media Tablet and eReader Tracker.

Androidbased media tablets Do these have a future

Apple's strength and RIM's entrance meant bad news for Android-based media tablets, which saw its collective share slip to 26.8%, down from 34% the previous quarter. Reuters

The worldwide media tablet shipments in the second quarter were driven by robust demand for Apple's iPad 2, which saw shipments reach the 9.3 million unit mark, which makes up 68.3% of the worldwide market, up from 65.7% the previous quarter. Research in Motion entered the media tablet market in Q2 2011 with its PlayBook product, grabbing a 4.9% share of the market. Apple's strength and RIM's entrance meant bad news for Android-based media tablets, which saw its collective share slip to 26.8%, down from 34% the previous quarter.

Based on this strong performance in the second quarter and an improved outlook for the second half of the year, IDC raised its shipment forecast for 2011 to 62.5 million units, up from a previous projection of 53.5 million units.

Looking forward to the second half of 2011, IDC expects Android to cede additional market share in Q3 2011 - dropping to 23% - before it starts growing its share again in Q4 2011 - going up to 25.9% - and beyond. In addition to continued demand for Apple iPads, IDC expects many consumers sitting on the fence going for $-99 TouchPads as a result of HP's decision to end production of its tablet product. IDC expects close to a million TouchPads to ship into the channel before the end of the year.

As a result, WebOS' worldwide market share is forecast to reach 4.7% in Q3 2011. However, with no clear plan to license or sell the OS to other vendors, IDC expects the WebOS market share to shrink back to zero by Q1 2012.

eReaders experienced a seasonal dip, down 9% sequentially, to 5.4 million units while year-on-year growth was 167%. Amazon led the market with a 51.7% share, followed by Barnes & Noble with 21.2%. With product refreshes and following strong Q2 2011 sales, IDC expects eReader shipments to grow significantly through the holiday season, reaching a total of 27.0 million units for the year, up from a previous projection of 16.2 million units.

"Media tablet shipments grew at a solid pace in the second quarter, led by continued strong demand for Apple products," said Tom Mainelli, research director, Mobile Connected Devices. "We expect major vendors to offer their current-generation black-and-white eReaders for less than $100 by the holidays," Mainelli said. "We're also expecting Amazon's much-rumoured, colour LCD-based device to ship later this year. Because we expect it to run a customised version of Android that ties its use to Amazon's content services, we expect the device to more closely resemble Barnes & Noble's Color Nook than Apple's iPad 2. As a result, our current plan is to count it as an eReader, and that will also help drive shipment numbers."

"eReaders are also gaining traction with a combination of increasing function and affordability, as well as greater device and content availability," added Song. "The strong first half performance and an improved view of eReader positioning helped boost our outlook for shipment volume."

Media tablets are defined as tablet form factor devices with color displays larger than 5 in. and smaller than 14 in., running lightweight operating systems - such as Apple's iOS and Google's Android OS - and can be based on either x86 or ARM processors.

In contrast, tablet PCs run full PC operating systems and are based on x86 processors. Media tablets support multiple connectivity technologies and a broad range of applications which differentiates them from single purpose-focussed devices such as eReaders.

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