Worldwide sales of the Apple iPad and other media tablets didn't quite meet shipment expectations during the first quarter, research firm IDC announced July 8. But fear not. Noting typical seasonal slumps, IDC went on to raise its tablet shipment forecast for the year, from 50.4 million to 53.5 million.
Tablet adoption is a trend to watch for mobile developers, as they represent a fundamentally new platform for app development. Even though smartphone apps typically work on tablets, apps built specifically for tablet platforms offer the potential for much greater functionality – and perhaps more importantly, monetization.
"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," IDC Vice President Bob O'Donnell said in statement. "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."
Lower-than-expected iPad shipments were additionally blamed on "supply-chain hiccups" and the March 2 introduction of the iPad 2.
Also expected to help boost sales going forward, the firm reported a day earlier, is excitement in the Asia/Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) area, which is now forecast reach 21 million units by 2015 — an increase of ten times its 2010 shipments.
While in Indonesia and Malaysia preferences are still toward mininotebooks, consumers in Korea, Australia, Taiwan and especially China — which IDC describes as demonstrating "high purchasing power" — are showing strong interest in tablets. The space is expected to be dominated by Apple, with Samsung in the number-two spot and several Chinese brands forming the "long tail" of the market.
"Over the next five years, Apple will set the pace for the media tablet category. Competitors to iPad must innovate ways to differentiate their products though, lest consumer interest wanes in favor of the next tech gadget," Melissa Chau, a research manager for IDC in the Asia/Pacific region, said in a July 7 statement.
"Some of this demand may be driven by the education sector, such as the Thai government's recently announced plan to distribute 800,000 Android tablets to primary school students."
eReaders, a category also growing in APEJ though more slowly, at an 18% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) versus tablets' 54% CAGR, are in China considered a nice choice for a gift. However, states the report, "more consumers are starting to consider media tablets."