Apple will take an even stronger slice of Australia's fast-growing tablet market than previously expected, one of the nation's major technology analyst firms said today, with Android vendors slow to bring their devices to market — and the devices not having enough different features to take much away from the iPad 2.
Analyst firm Telsyte was last year forecasting that Apple's iPad would have only 60 per cent market share in Australia's tablet market in 2011, down from 2010, where the company was estimated to have nabbed 90 per cent of the market up-front with its flagship iPad having virtually no competition. However, Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi today said his company had revised that figure to 71 percent for 2011.
"A lot of Android vendors have yet to bring their devices to market," he said, noting that many had been delayed until the second half of 2011. Hyped tablets such as Motorola's Xoom, Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1v and Research in Motion's non-Android BlackBerry PlayBook have only just launched in Australia, while others, such as HP's TouchPad (with its own Linux-based OS), have yet to reach Australian shores, and are not slated to do so until 18 months after the iPad first launched here.
Secondly, Fadaghi noted that the early arrival of the iPad 2 earlier this year, even before most of the competitors had even launched their first model in Australia, meant that the rival vendors' hardware was comparable to Apple's offering.
In addition, Telsyte believes that Google's Android platform, used by companies like Motorola, Samsung and Toshiba, will be behind the iPad for at least the next 12 months when it comes to the applications available for it.
To compete with the iPad, the analyst firm believes that those using the Android platform on tablets will need to reduce their prices, which are generally comparable to those of the iPad at the moment. Some early Android tablets, such as Samsung's 7" Galaxy Tab, have already seen rapid price cuts in the range of $700 or more just months after they launched, due to the rapidly changing market.
And as for Microsoft?
"Although expected to make a big splash when launched, Microsoft's Windows 8 tablet is not expected until 2012. For some of Microsoft's partners it comes a little too late as most have already adopted Google's Android platform," the analyst firm said.
In general, in 2011 Telsyte estimates almost 1.2 million tablets will ship in Australia in 2011, making Apple's share some 852,000 units. That number is almost triple the 400,000 tablets that sold in Australia in 2010.
Some of the tablets, typically those with 3G connectivity enabled, have gone on sale through mobile carriers like Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, with plans attached. However, Telsyte said that it believed this approach, where telcos had marketed the tablets as being similar to smartphones, had not been successful.
"Telsyte believes consumers prefer a shared cap between smartphones and tablets, rather than standalone tablet plans," the company said. Currently, the majority of users on 3G-enabled tablets prefer to connect via prepaid SIMs when outside of a Wi-Fi zone. Telsyte believes that a shared cap approach for carriers will encourage loyalty and allow for the effective up-selling of data services."
The analyst firm has published a comprehensive report on Australia's tablet sector, which is available through the company's site for a fee.