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Years after the first introduction of prototype concept devices known as mobile Internet devices (MIDs), the tablet fulfilled the promise of this product category. Market research firm In-Stat predicts that in the year 2017 approximately 250 million media tablets, or 0.68 million per day, will be shipped.

“The tablet market and its associated ecosystem are still evolving. Over the next few generations we will see more differentiation between devices that are targeting different market segments and usage models. In addition, competitive device and service pricing will bring tablets into the mainstream consumer and enterprise markets,” says Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at In-Stat.

The tablet market reached an inflection point through the combination of a new device (Apple iPad), new business models supported by wireless operators, and new usage models through cloud computing and mobile applications. As we enter the last half of 2011, In-Stat forecasts more growth opportunities as a result of price degradation, and new tablets from major consumer electronic (CE) companies like Samsung, Motorola, BlackBerry, LG, and HTC. New In-Stat research forecasts that this trend will help push tablet shipments toward 250 million units in 2017.

The 9” to 11” form factor is forecasted to be the dominant tablet form factor with 56% of the market in 2017.

iOS and Android are forecast to maintain over 90% of the market share with Windows as a distant third. Meanwhile, not supporting one of the leading OS platforms is likely to lead to the failure of several companies in the tablet market due to lack of application support.

“Tablets are joining an array of smart-connected devices that allow users almost unlimited access to content and communications. These new devices mark a significant change in the value change of the electronics industry where the content and applications are now the key differentiators and innovation drivers,” added Mr. McGregor.

It is necessary to not that in the consumer segment, tablets are competing against all CE and computing devices, not just PCs.

Despite similarities in system hardware and software architecture, usage models among mobile devices vary by device type.

The combination of mobile applications, new semiconductor technology, and the full Internet experience are key factors in empowering the tablet market.

Tags: iOS, Android, Google, Apple, Microsoft, Windows

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