iPad’s Leadership Threatens Microsoft

The tablet market is already saturated with models of various sizes, with many closing in on Apple’s iPad, which is expected to be the leader for the foreseeable future.

If research firm Gartner’s predictions are right, then Microsoft’s tablet ambitions will fail, placing the company in jeopardy.

According to Gartner, Microsoft will have only eight per cent of the tablet market in 2013, the first year after Windows 8 is expected to hit the market, and only 12 per cent by 2016. The iPad will dominate, with Android devices coming close behind.

While Windows 8 tablets will have some appeal in the enterprise market, Carolina Milanesi, research vice-president at Gartner, believes media tablets are likely to remain largely a consumer device.

“Tablets have been created for consumers first, but we believe that Windows 8 will have an advantage as long as they are not seen as a compromise in usability for the users,” Milanesi said.

However, Gartner says that 35 per cent of media tablet sales in 2015 will come from the enterprise market, which could be good news for Microsoft. However, Apple’s iPad is already beginning to make inroads in this market.

Vendors are struggling to compete on price and differentiate enough on either the hardware or ecosystem,

To distinguish itself from the crowd, Toshiba will unveil a monstrous tablet with 13.3-inch screen in June.

“Toshiba emphasised that it’s not just trying to stand out by offering a jumbo tablet, its goal is to provide a range of sizes to meet a range of user needs,” Santosh Varghese, Toshiba’s Mena general manager of its computer systems division said

Varghese added “We are targeting the educational and medical sectors. Educational institutes are going for tablets and this sector is going to get a big boost by Dubai’s smart learning initiatives.”

Varghese said that “one size does not fit all, so we are carefully considering how and where people are using tablets and (will) design form factors to best suit various needs”.

A few experts agree the Excite 13.3-inch will be considered too big.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, said there’s a direct correlation between size and the frequency of being dropped. The problem with big tablets is that the bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Dulaney said Toshiba is probably trying out different sizes to see how well they do in the market, just as Samsung has done with its tablets, including the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 and Samsung Galaxy2 7-inch display.

Still, Samsung has resisted building a tablet with anything larger than a 10.1-inch screen, and that makes the Excite 13 all the more unusual.

“Only time will tell whether users adopt the big form factor, but to me it seems too big to be a good tablet and too tablet-like to be a good PC,” Buehler said.

“At 13.3 inches, it is probably not terribly portable in the sense of putting it in your pocket, like you might with a 7-inch or smaller size, but it is probably great for uses like looking at X-ray or detailed schematics and diagrams,” Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates, said.

Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for Mobile Connected Devices, said, “Apple will remain dominant in terms of worldwide vendor unit shipments. However, Android-based tablets will overtake Apple in terms of worldwide market share by 2015. We expect iOS to remain the revenue market share leader through the end of our 2016 forecast period and beyond.”

In fact, Gartner believes that fewer than five million media tablets running Windows will be sold this year, rising to 44 million in 2016 around a quarter of what Apple is expected to sell that year, as Gulf News stated.

Canalys analyst Tim Coulling said that software is crucial for corporate, such as apps for video conferences.

“As developers write apps for touch screens, then we will see more enterprises migrating to tablets. We are seeing rapid adoption of tablets across a lot of highly regulated sectors — from public utilities to financial services, banking and health care,” Coulling said.