The prospect for greater tablet PC sales is bleak because the "crazy days" of EMEA laptop sales have returned, according to analyst IDC.
Tablet PC sales fell by 31 per cent in the second quarter of 2003 and accounted for less than one per cent of the total notebook market. In contrast, notebook sales jumped by 39 per cent in the same quarter.
"I do not expect [tablet PCs] to account for more than three per cent of the total notebook market this year," said IDC analyst Andy Brown.
"Fierce competition in the notebook sector is holding back the take-up of tablet PCs and now is a good time to buy a notebook because prices have fallen dramatically.
"People are sticking to a technology they understand. If tablets are to take off, the industry needs to explain the usefulness of handwriting recognition."
Brown added that price reductions have begun in the tablet market as vendors prepare for the next wave of tablet PCs based on Intel's Centrino chip.
Alison Heath, account manager for Computacenter at Fujitsu Siemens, said that tablets are not being taken up as replacements for normal laptops.
"We are seeing demand in the specialist markets where people are in the field and have to walk and work at the same time," she said.
Darren Boyce, managing director of reseller Applinet, said that tablet PCs have not convinced customers seeking productivity enhancements and resellers looking for margins.
He added that Applinet, as an Hewlett-Packard reseller, has considered tablet PCs but not taken them on.
"The development of the PDA environment has convinced customers that this is the way forward, rather than tablets," he said.
"With the price reduction and commoditisation of the laptop, the tablet is unattractive to customers."
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