The large, lush, feature-rich iPad as we have known it will continue to enjoy a leading position in the market in the short term. But emerging markets and a demand for lower-cost and smaller units worldwide will ultimately tip the momentum away from the high-end iPad, says ABI Research in a new report.
The company says that despite Apple ruling the U.S. and other Western markets right now, there are already 220 tablet models in the market. Tablets priced under $400 will drive the greatest growth, and will take 60% of the market by 2016.
“The majority of new entrant media tablet models have been in the sub-$400 segment that focuses on growth markets like India and China,” says Jeff Orr, group director, consumer research. For now, however, what are being called “wide aspect display media tablets" (i.e., the current iPad) accounted for 75% of the worldwide market in 2011.
ABI says the most growth will come from screens between 7 and 9 inches.
IDC made a similar prediction last week when its analysts found Apple share already down to 54.7% and momentum behind Android-powered, cheaper and smaller competition. IDC cited tablets in some international markets starting at $120.
According to some estimates, Amazon Kindle Fire sold between 4 million and 5 million units in late 2011, demonstrating a hunger for inexpensive -- if smaller -- devices.