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THE market for tablet computers is about to go into hyperdrive.

Apple will this month double the number of iPads on the market following this week’s unveiling of iPad 2.

ASUS revealed plans to launch a new tablet in Australia next month.

And a slew of tablet computers are poised to appear from big-name brands including Samsung, LG, HTC, Motorola, BlackBerry and HP.

Research firm Gartner predicts the influx will mean more than 64 million tablet computers will be sold in 2011, up from 20 million last year and none the year before.

But Gartner research vice-president Van Baker said Apple was likely to dominate sales, after claiming such an early lead in 2010.

“Apple really defined this category and everyone else is figuring out how to compete with them,” he said.

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs turned up the rivalry at the iPad 2 launch, telling a San Francisco audience the other tablet-makers were copycats who had been flummoxed by the arrival of the original iPad and had yet to understand the needs of tablet users.

“A lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in and they are thinking of this as the new PC,” he said.

“They’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs. Every bone in our bodies says this is not the right approach.”

Mr Jobs said the new wave of tablets could not compete with iPad 2’s new features, – including two new cameras, a dual-core processor and 8.8mm slim body – or its price, which will remain the same as the original iPad in the US.

Australian pricing will be confirmed closer to its March 25 arrival.

The original iPad will also compete with rival tablets on price. Since iPad 2 was launched the price of the original iPad fell by up to $210, with an entry-level iPad now costing $449.

But Google-based tablets will provide plenty of competition.

Google Android software will feature on tablets from Motorola, Samsung, LG and HTC.

Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said Android tablets would attract a large audience and, in time, vie for market leadership with Apple.

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