Tablet PC vendors have been urged to eschew mobile network operators as a route to market after a first quarter in which sales of the devices fell well short of expectations.
Figures from IDC find that tablet shipments in Q1 2011 fell 28 per cent sequentially to 7.2 million. The sharp drop was attributed to the kind of post-Christmas seasonal decline which typifies more long-established markets. This suggests tablet demand may not be quite as fervent as the media hype would have you believe, said IDC.
But the outlook for the rest of the year appears considerably brighter, with the market watcher raising its 2011 tablet shipment forecast from 50.4 million to 53.5 million units. The continued entrance of new players into the market is expected to help reinvigorate sales.
The iPad and iPad 2 (pictured below) continued to be the market's top seller in Q1 by far but even Apple posted quarterly shipment numbers "well below expectations". The slip was attributed, in part, to "some supply-chain hiccups on screens", as well as pre-release info for the iPad 2 coming out several weeks before the device became generally available.
Android-based tablets cashed in on Apple's woes, with the operating system's market share spiking 8.2 points sequentially to 34 per cent. However, mobile phone vendors, including Samsung and Motorola, are hindering their sales by focusing on the carrier route to market, said IDC. Consumers are wary of signing up to the necessary 3G or 4G data packages, explained the analyst.
IDC vice president of clients and displays Bob O'Donnell claimed there will be more pain for manufacturers who pursue the telco route to market.
"Like the PC market, media tablets had a bit of a challenging quarter in Q1, as concerns about general macroeconomic issues and the post-holiday letdown took a toll on demand," he added. "We expect the rest of the year to be much stronger, but we believe vendors who continue to focus on the telco channel for distribution will face serious challenges."
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