Four burning questions will determine how large a chunk resellers can bite out of the burgeoning tablet market over the coming months, analyst CCS Insight has asserted.
CCS Insight has joined the ranks of market watchers to predict massive growth for the shiny new form factor although its estimate of 46 million shipments in 2011 is lower than the consensus.
Talking to ChannelWeb on the eve of the widely expected launch of iPad 2, CCS Insight founder Shaun Collins said the extent to which resellers will spearhead that growth remains unclear.
The first unresolved issue is whether tablets are viewed as connected devices or as an extension of the netbook. Currently, Apple and the other tablet vendors are favouring the classic consumer electronic channels, but this may change as carriers channels look to get in on the act, warned Collins.
A second related riddle yet to be solved is whether the bulk of tablets will have cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity, he added.
The debate over screen size forms a third quandary, with vendor choice providing the final poser.
"Of that 46 million units, we think Apple will be responsible for 60 to 65 per cent," said Collins.
"Resellers will have to have Apple in there as it is driving the top-line vision of the market, but who do you put in behind it? Samsung, RIM, LG, HTC, HP, Cisco, Motorola? There are some heavy hitters in there."
Collins predicted tablets would eventually displace the netbook form factor, but would make little headway into notebook sales as the two categories were complementary.
"This market segment is so new it will take another 12 months to settle down to a normal rhythm," he concluded.
Stuart Fenton, president of EMEA and AsiaPac at corporate reseller Insight Enterprises said: "We are seeing significant interest in the two principal tablets we carry in the iPad and Samsung Galaxy, and that doesn't appear to be affecting our notebook sales."
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