updated 02:35 pm EDT, Thu October 20, 2011
Study has Apple ahead in tablets, back in Asa
Dueling ABI studies marked two milestones for mobile technology. Getting details on netbook shipments, it found that mobile tablets had passed netbooks for the first time with about 13.6 million shipping versus 7.3 million of the primarily Windows-based netbooks. Apple alone would have outsold the netbook class with 9.25 million iPads, or 68 percent of tablets by itself.
The researchers didn't share the opinions of traditional PC makers like Acer, which claim tablets will disappear. Because they occupied different categories, it wasn't just a case of tablets replacing netbooks but shifting attention to tablets as the "most interesting device type," mobile group director Jeff Orr said, not computers.
He added that price wasn't the factor, as the average tablet cost about $600 where a netbook cost half as much. Tablets weren't just easier to use but were getting to those who didn't like to use PCs because of the complexity. "Those who have avoided PCs because they are difficult to use -- think the Baby Boomer generation and older -- see media tablets as an opportunity to re-engage with Internet access," Orr said.
In the long term, ABI saw 60 million mobile tablets shipping this year where netbooks would be down to 32 million. Most would be in well-off areas where early adopters are common, ranging from North America to Western Europe, Japan, and South Korea.
Apple, however, wasn't going to have a similar grip on smartphones in Asia and the Pacific. About 27 percent of phones in the area should be smartphones this year, but 52 percent of those would run Android. Much of that would come from low-end devices that could reach those who Apple and others couldn't with some device prices. Some of these are relatively unknown outside of the area, such as G'Five, Karbonn, and Micromax, but were picking up customers who were looking for budget hardware.
Of the majors, HTC and Samsung combined could have 24 percent of the smartphone market to themselves, making Asian smartphone firms a large part of the industry.
Apple has said that the Asia-Pacific is vital and now is its second-most important segment. The cheap iPhone 3GS, which is free on contract and a relatively inexpensive $375, is being kept around to reach many of those who would have opted for Android hardware at a similar price level.