updated 11:30 am EDT, Wed April 13, 2011
DisplaySearch sees brief 2011 tablet stall-out
Tablets are going to face some trouble in 2011 but will ultimately marginalize netbooks, DisplaySearch estimated on Wednesday. Researchers expected a "hitch" in tablet deliveries through the spring and summer as many companies wouldn't be sure how to sell their first tablets while seeming like a viable contender against the iPad 2. It wouldn't be until the second half of the year that demands would be clearer and rivals could try attacking the market in earnest.
The tablet space would still manage to reach 52.4 million units in 2011 and would mostly be led by wealthier areas, since the developing world couldn't necessarily afford both a computer and a tablet and would usually choose a notebook instead.
Netbooks ("mini-notes") had permanently lost their luster, the analysts said. The once-hot category's shipments were set to plunge 20 percent this year, to 25.4 million total, but would keep dropping over the next few years. Despite attempts to push netbooks as major parts of the market as little as a year ago, they would now be limited to "price-sensitive areas" like poorer countries and schools.
Tablets wouldn't be the dominant category but were expected to grow at about 150 percent per year through to 2014. Regular notebooks would keep growing as well, but at a more conservative 20 percent that would see their dominance reduced over time.
Long-term predictions are tentative and often don't predict wildcard factors. Many firms had predicted the netbook field would keep growing or keep similar share until the iPad arrived and started stealing away sales. With HTC, LG, Motorola, and Samsung entering the category in earnest, it's nonetheless expected that there will at least be a short-term burst in share as companies gauge whether or not they can compete with Apple.
Tablet shipment estimates