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Tens of companies, who are preparing to release their tablet-type personal computers in 2010 will have to be happy with total available market of around 4 million units annually, however, by 2015 the market of tablet PCs will grow significantly to 57 million units per year, predicts ABI Research. Still, slate PCs will not replace existing devices like notebooks or mobile phones.

ABI Research defines media tablets as having a touch-screen interface, 5” – 11” in size, with Wi-Fi Internet connectivity and video and gaming capabilities. Other features are available in some media tablets. ABI does not determine whether media slates should be powered by custom ARM microprocessors or x86 chips from companies like AMD or Intel. The hardware inside tablets is crucial since only a handful of companies can make even moderate system-on-chip and create software for it, hence, availability of standard components seems to be crucial for rapid market expansion.

“Apple’s iPad is not the first media tablet. But it does help define this new device category. The main focus of media tablets is entertainment. A tablet will not replace a laptop, netbook or mobile phone, but will remain an additional premium or luxury product for wealthy industrialized markets for at least several years,” said senior analyst Jeff Orr.

A number of other tablets were announced at the International CES 2010. Players in this new field fall into two camps: traditional computer vendors such as Lenovo, HP, and Asus; and a number of new, smaller vendors such as ICD and Notion Ink. The vendors in the latter category are often quite small and little known, and they see this market as an entry-point. Apple is one part of the mix and has all chances to become a fairly sizeable player.

“The biggest challenge faced by the media tablet category is how they will reach the market and generate awareness among potential buyers. New entrants to this market are at a disadvantage since they lack the retail relationships and network operator agreements already built by the more mature vendors. Surprisingly, Apple may have done them a favor by raising the public profile of the whole media tablet category,” said Mr. Orr.

Tags: AMD, , Intel, , x86,

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