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Tablet shipment figures for the first quarter of 2013 are already here and they present an interesting scenario. For instance, according to a Digitimes report, tablet shipment reached 31.93 million for the first three months of this year, which represents a decline of 26.1 percent on quarter but increased by 66.1 percent on year. However, IDC is reporting an even more optimistic shipment figure of 49.2 million for the quarter.
However, both Digitimes and IDC seem to be unanimous regarding the iPad, reporting shipments of 19.5 million of the Apple tablet during the period. However, while the iPad continues to be at the top of the heap, the trend seems to be on the slide. Apple still has 39.6 percent of the tablet market to itself, though it used to be 43.6 and 58.2 in the last two preceding quarters. Analysts claim it’s quite normal, as Apple generally records a weaker first quarter after strong sales during the holiday season. Apple has recorded a year over year growth of a healthy 65 percent.
Samsung and Asus make up the second and third slot with sales of 8.8 and 2.7 million respectively. The individual figures might not be too inspiring, but both companies have reported 288.7 and 267.6 percent increases in sales respectively compared to the same period a year ago. Microsoft, according to IDC, managed to make it among the top five tablet makers with shipment of 900,000 of its Surface devices.
However, there are some contradictions that come to the fore that pertain to the operating system that dominates the tablet segments. While Digitimes is claiming the Apple iOS accounts for a dominating 61 percent of the total tablets shipped in Q1, IDC is pegging the figure at lower than 40 percent for iOS, with the Google Android making up 56.5 percent of all the tablets shipped. According to Digitimes, Android and Windows make up 31 and 8 percent of the total tablet shipment.
Another interesting finding of the Digitimes research is that the smaller tablets measuring 7 inches or so that are in greater demand, accounting for 56 percent of the tablets shipped in Q1. Tablets measuring 9 and 10 inches make up 22 and 20 percent of the shipments.
Apple is reported to have set in motion plans to cut production of its iPad Mini in the second quarter this year, a move which industry experts believe could be a way to herald in the new gen iPad Mini. On the cards is a 20 percent cut in production of the iPad Mini in April, followed by more later on. In fact, the report carried at Digitimes claims Apple plans to bring iPad Mini shipments down to just 10 million in the quarter. However, it’s not known for sure if the plan to cut production can be attributed entirely to the coming of a new iPad Mini or from increased competition from the new budget tablets launched in the past month or so.
In fact, there is a whole new segment that has come up with prices ranging below the $199 mark, which at one time was considered the lowest a tablet can sell for. Also notably, it’s the biggies in the business such as HP, Acer, Asus, and the likes that have launched tablets in the ultra low price bracket. Then there also is the Galaxy Note 8.0 from Samsung that is expected to provide some stiff competition to the iPad Mini if it’s priced right. Apple CEO Tim Cook has cautioned it would be unwise to make too much about reports of production cuts stating that the company typically sources its components from various manufacturers so that such data from supply chain sources cannot always offer a true picture of the real scenario.
Sony had unveiled the Xperia Tablet S device at the IFA, though crucial pricing details were missing. They have now been revealed: $399, $499, and $599 for the 16, 32, and 64 GB versions of the Sony tablet. With the prices, Sony also made it known they’d like to be where Samsung is right now as far as Android tablets are concerned. That perhaps explains the pricing strategy, which is exactly the same as the Samsung Galaxy Tab though the Samsung tablet was launched almost half a year ago.
The Xperia Tablet S is the latest generation version of the Tablet S that Sony had launched more than a year ago and comes with a more evolved design approach, better hardware, and a slimmer and lighter build. A Tegra 3 chip powers the new tablet, which now comes pre-loaded with Android Ice Cream Sandwich. While all of that is good, what could have made the Sony offering even more appealing is its display. 1280 x 800 is quite dull in comparison to 1920 x 1200 pixels, which is fast becoming the standard for Android tablets.
Also, the one thing that may not play favorably for the tablet’s prospects is its price. A starting price of $399 could have been considered affordable a year or two ago, but not anymore. More so since Asus has its Transformer Pad 300 device available at just a shade more than $400 but with twice the internal storage. Other enticing options in this segment include the Acer A700, which is a device comparable to the Xperia Tablet S but with twice the storage capacity, a HD display, and priced at $449. The same goes for the Asus Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 as well, which also sports a faster processor and a 1920 x 1200 pixel display, while still being priced the same as the 32 GB Xperia Tablet S.
Acer and Asus have stated that they will be in a position to launch tablets running Windows 8 during Q4 of this year. Acer has been the most vocal against Microsoft pursuing hardware plans of its own with its Surface device, but has also made it clear the company is also keen to tap the business potential that Windows 8 is offering. The company is reported to be working on at least two tablet devices running Windows 8.
Microsoft is scheduled to launch Windows 8 on Oct 26, which is when the company will also launch the eagerly anticipated tablet of its own. Right now, there is a lot of speculation going on as to what the Surface will cost, with some pointing out it could be as low as just $199. This price-point is to ensure the latest Windows version is introduced to a much wider audience. Lenovo, for its part, has stated it is working on a number of Windows 8 based devices that will be competitively priced.
In short, there is plenty of Windows 8 action waiting to unfold. It will be a welcome change from the inundation of Android tablets we see announced and released on a monthly basis. A more touchscreen friendly version of Windows will have a wider footprint, but its success is driven by developers making touchscreen optimized apps.