updated 03:20 pm EST, Tue January 19, 2010
Apple to drive growth of new touch devices
Thanks to key releases, tablets are about to have their "breakout year" and move tens of millions of units, Deloitte says in a new long-term estimate. Apple's expected tablet unveiling as well as the eventual launch of the HP slate should help fuel the otherwise quiet category, which includes any Internet-aware, touch-only device larger than a smartphone but smaller than a netbook. Author Paul Lee anticipates that tablets could account for up to over $1 billion in sales and eclipse the GPS market.
He justifies the ambitious projection by characterizing the tablet as a "Goldilocks device" that fills a key niche. The desire for an in-between device has existed for awhile, Lee explains, but poor battery life, performance and wireless speeds have often made tablets impractical. Technology is just now catching up to where customers have wanted to be.
It remains to be seen whether the prediction will prove accurate. Microsoft has tried unsuccessfully for several years to push the Tablet PC to the general public but has so far only found business with specific industries, such as doctors and warehouses. The HP slate is also believed to be taking a very different route than Apple's supposed hardware as it will use just Windows 7 where Apple is poised to have a more limited, but also more optimized, variant of the iPhone platform.