The tablet PC represents less than one per cent of the notebook market, with EMEA shipments of less than 100,000, according to analyst Canalys. IBM, Dell and Sony are conspicuous by their absence from the market, the company noted.
"There is plenty of interest from customers but not a lot of commitment," said Nick Evans, business manager for mobility and Microsoft at reseller IT Partnerships.
"Customers have got wise and are evaluating why they would want to buy a tablet; they need to justify the cost."
Andy Buss, senior analyst at Canalys, said: "The difficulty is that we are in the formative stages of the market.
"The IT depression has put a dampener on sales, and tablets are expensive compared with generic laptops, with little appeal in the horizontal market."
But Buss added that there are opportunities in vertical markets, and said the long-term prospects for tablets are good.
He said Microsoft should subsidise its operating system licences for at least two years, and include more marketing spend.
Paul Randle, Microsoft's product marketing manager for Windows XP, said a marketing campaign to drive end-user and corporate demand for the platform is planned for the new year.
"We see the tablet as a key platform. Vendors are now coming out with second- and third-generation versions of the tablet, and they are learning from earlier versions. There are a lot of clever ideas coming out, which should catalyse the market," he said.
Randle added that Microsoft has grown the ISV base for tablet applications from 30 firms at launch to 130 development firms. The company has also upgraded its software development kit for the tablet to version 1.7.
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