updated 06:40 am EDT, Fri June 17, 2011
Android tablet makers switch back to smartphones
A number of Android smartphone makers who have turned their hand to Android tablets to try cash in on the tablet PC category dominated by the iPad are said to giving up. Instead, their focus has switched back from tablets to the development of larger, high-end smartphones with 4- to 5-inch displays. According to Digitimes, only Samsung has made any significant inroads into the segment, claiming a 10% share.
Sales of competing tablets from Motorola, RIM, LG, HTC and Acer have been flat. Digitimes, which has sources within the Taiwanese manufacturing industry supply chain, is reporting that a number of companies are reducing investment in research and development of 7- and 10-inch tablets. Instead, these resources have been redirected back into their smartphone portfolios.
One of the reasons cited for the flat sales of Android tablets is that a number of Android phone manufacturers already have large screen smartphones in the hands of users. It is thought that Android users do not necessarily see the value in adding an additional device when they are of the view that their current device already offers much the same functionality.
Further, Android buyers have historically been less willing to part with additional cash for music, video and app purchases. This contrasts with Apple's iOS users who have downloaded and paid for billions of songs and apps. Apple has also been successful with its marketing, effectively differentiating between the iPhone and the iPad by highlighting the way that iPad-specific applications offer an enhanced user experience.
The first major Android-based iPad competitor, the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab released late last year was likened more to an oversize smartphone, but which could not make phone calls. However, Samsung has bounced back with its Galaxy Tab 10.1, which runs Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), and which offers a tablet-optimized experience.
However, for most of the other Android manufacturers, enticing buyers to add a large screen tablet device, which fits in a tight niche between a large smartphone and a notebook, is to date proving to be a bridge to far.