Tablet PCs will be high on Computex agenda - Apple

Tablet PCs will be the main focus at Computex, according to a report from market analysis group DRAMeXchange.

The report found that netbook growth by 2009 was up 172 percent year on year, but DRAMeXchange believes 2009 was its peak. It expects declines in 2010, which TechEye already discovered in a Retrevo report yesterday that showed 30 percent of netbook users would prefer an iPad. 2009's netbook sales were 28 million units, while 36 million units are expected to ship in 2010, up 27 percent, a much lower growth margin than previous years.

DRAMeXchange is forecasting a shift in focus among PC manufacturers after the iPad's launch in April. It sees many manufacturers abandoning the netbook to jump onboard the tablet bandwagon, which promises to be a lucrative industry for some time to come.

Tablet PCs were originally launched back in the 1980s, but it was not until 2001 that the term “tablet PC” became popularised by Microsoft. However, they were expensive, bulky and heavy, had poor battery life, and lacked wireless and 3G connections, resulting in small production lines. It is only now that the problems facing the original tablets are being resolved, making them an appealing product for a wider audience.

The iPad has exceeded expectations for sales, with one million units shipping in less than a month, compared to the 74 days it took for the same amount of iPhones. DRAMeXchange expects that the first half of 2010's iPad shipments will be upwards of 1.7 million, while the total number for the year will be between seven and eight million.

DRAMeXchange found that those working in busy offices will most likely still prefer a notebook, but those who want an entertainment and internet browsing device will choose a tablet PC. DRAMeXchange also believes that multi-touch and Flash support are two of the most important things that will give a competitive advantage to the tablet. Tell that to Steve Jobs.

DRAMeXchange does not see the customer bases of netbooks and tablets overlapping, but rather forecasts that the tablet will open up a completely new market. This falls in line with the fact that the netbook is still seen as the business device, while the iPad and other tablets are being aimed at a more mainstream audience.

Intel, Asus, and Acer plan to launch their own tablet PCs at Computex next month. Google and Verizon are also planning to release a tablet of their own to compete with Apple. ARM will also be adding its weight behind the tablet PC and will be showcasing some at Computex.

With the market ripe and ready for a surge of tablet PCs, Computex promises to deliver some big announcements. TechEye will be there to bring you the lowdown.

Netbook shipments

Tablet netbook comparison