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08
December
2011

2012 Tablet PC and Color E-Reader demand to reach 94.9 million

For 2011, the evolution in the tablet PC market can essentially be characterized into 4 key stages: (1) upbeat market outlook; (2) aggressive product promotions; (3) worse-than-expected sales; (4) comprehensive year-end sales review. The drastic market change took everyone by surprise.
WitsView, a research division of TrendForce, indicates that the tablet PC sales of non-Apple brand vendors were not as robust as previously anticipated, coupled with Apple’s decision in lowering its own iPad sales forecast, the latest aggregated tablet PC shipment forecast for 2011 has been lowered by 4.6 percent, from 52.6 million to 50.2 million units.

Meanwhile, in the color E-reader market, Amazon has made strong market inroads with its low-priced Kindle Fire. Thus, WitsView still maintains its original 7.4 million color E-reader shipment forecast for 2011.

According to Eric Chiou, a research director at WitsView, although brand vendors were disappointed with the overall tablet PC sales in 2011, the underlying market conditions remain positive for 2012. Most importantly, the most critical year-end sales promotions have already kicked off in full steam.

Despite the fact that the offered price drops stems partly from brand vendors’ attempts to clear away excess inventory, the promotions are still expected to stimulate brisk demand. Without doubt, the allure of tablet PCs remains strong among consumers.

As long as prices fall within the budget range, consumers are ready to open their wallets. Currently priced at $199, the Amazon Kindle Fire has become a price benchmark for tablet PCs. In 2012, the more intense price competition in the tablet market will simultaneously stir up even more market demand.

Aside from the more attractive price tags, the wide range of features will also play a role in further expanding the tablet PC market size. Benefitting from the sharper display resolutions, the newer generation tablet PCs launched in 2012 will provide readers with an even more pleasant reading experience.

In addition to the mainstream 9.7” and 10.1” products, notable growth is also projected for the 7”, 8.9” and 11.6”. Whether users are more interested in larger-sized tablet PC to fully enjoy a richer visual experience, or an easy-to-carry smaller sized model, the varying sizes are tailored to the needs of different consumers, which will inherently fuel more tablet PC sales.

In general, WitsView currently believes the tablet PC market development in 2012 is quite optimistic. Shipments of tablet PCs and color E-readers are forecasted to reach 82.6 million and 12.3 million units, respectively. Their combined shipment volume is expected to grow by 65% YoY from 57.6 million in 2011 to 94.9 million units in 2012.   

In WitsView’s opinion, the time of cutthroat competition over hardware specs advancement in the PC and TV industries has passed. In the tablet PC era, competition will be fought in both the hardware and software segments. How successful a brand vendor integrates the two will be the key in attracting potential buyers.

In other words, the ability to offer compelling content and applications will be the biggest challenge to overcome. Based on this development, WitsView projects that both Apple iPad and Amazon Fire products will continue to respectively dominate the table PC and color E-reader markets, accounting for a 67% and 65% share in 2012.
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