Many popular touch screen manufacturers and companies making chipsets are entering an golden age of sales and profit directly arbitrated to the proliferation of tablet and slate computers.
With the tremendous success of the Apple iPad, many companies such as Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard, HTC and Cisco Systems Inc are all working on a new generation of Tablets. Many companies already have begun to usher their products to market, such as the Samsung Galaxy Pad.
Many other mainstay tech brands such as Research in Motion, Lenovo, Motorola, and others are also developing tablet computers, while new companies such as Notion Ink are developing quite a following of people looking for an alternative to the Apple iPad.
Tablet Computers are beginning to rise from a fringe gadget. They have been available for many years now, but just recently became a mainstream device, taking three quarters of the market place away from Laptop and Netbook computers. “The tablet market is going to be one of the largest for touch screen controllers,” said Jennifer Colegrove, director at Display Search, which monitors trends in the display sector. Colegrove expects the tablet PC market to generate $90 million in revenue for touchscreen chipmakers this year, and that could double in 2011.
And those numbers are expected to keep growing to as high as $500 million by 2012, forecasts Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar, dwarfing unit-for-unit the handset touchscreen market.
Companies such as Qualcomm are building new mega factories just to produce touch screens and others such as FreeScale, Liquidvista, Texas Instruments, Chinese Pixcir Microelectronics and Taiwan-based Elan Microelectronics Corp are all entering the touch screen frenzy hoping to land lucrative contracts from larger companies. All of these companies make chips that go beyond a simple touch screen device. They allow a user to zoom, pinch in and out, and make complex gestures to interact with the screen.
Typically, the dollar content for a touch chip on a tablet device is 3-5 times the average selling price of a mobile phone touch chip. Which is why the phone sector for iPhones, Android Phones and others remain popular, but tablets are more lucrative.
It seems like the Tablet PC is really exploding right now, and it is still at its infancy stage. As new screens are developed, such as the Pixel QI tablet set to debut soon, people will experience a taste of a screen that is different than just a TFT or LCD one.
People were very skeptical in the beginning to see if this resurgence of tablet computers would go anywhere. They have been around for a long time. What began as a niche market 15 years ago (when Silicon Valley-based Synaptics put a credit card-sized touchpad on the Apple Mac Book) has exploded into a global touchpad market forecast to be worth $9 billion within a couple of years across PCs, handsets and other gadgets such as e-readers.
Many people discounted that tablet computers would have the retail life of a Netbook. Remember those? They were all of the rage last year, and now hardly anyone buys these. Although 2010 is the year in which the mass market’s attention was firmly eagle eyed on the iPad, and now suddenly all of the major OEM vendors want to get a piece of the action.
I think the success of tablets will be up to two deciding factors; One – the independent developing community that is the lifeline on the success of a new device and 2) Companies who develop their own content delivery network that allow the tablet to be used specifically for a niche population of users.
Independent developers make all of the popular applications, games, and other tools you enjoy. The big proponent of Apple’s success in the market climate is directly arbitrated to the developer community that was established with the first generation of iPhone. Not only does Apple enjoy supremacy in the sheer amount of content available via its distribution network of not only games, and apps, but of Movies, TV Shows produced by large networks, but Google Android is proving popular as well. Google Android is basically a free operating system to be used by Tablet PC companies, as long as they license it. Companies that do not bother to license from Google end up getting bocoytted by the Android Market, such is the case of Augen with their Gentouch78. Google Android and the Android market are a great alternative for smaller companies and larger companies alike to have an open-source, stable, and robust platform in order to develop custom Skins, and applications. Since new applications on both platforms see daily updates, revisions, and new things launching, it gives users secure knowledge that their device will still be relevant in a few years, and give them daily things to do to interact with their device differently from Portable Computers and Netbooks.
Companies such as Cisco and Research in Motion are developing their tablets not for the mass market (although they would not mind the sales) but as tablets aimed at a specific target group. In Research in Motion they are catering to the business and corporate market, which has sustained their smart phone business for the last 10 years. Cisco is developing tablets to be used by Inventory Control, Manufacturing, Factories, and even air plane navigation to carry flight information.
For a new tablet computer to hit the market and be sustainable, it requires a long term investment by the end user. The product has to be relevant beyond 2010. A company has to have one of those two things and both of those things has to be a “must have item” in order to succeed and for tablets to be further refined over time to mature. Screens are one of the major aspects of this. New screens, with a lower cost, and support of multi-touch, complex gestures, augmented realitym and other facets will really determine the success of tablets and the growth of the market.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.