Apple Set to Face Stiff Competition in the Tablet Space

By Beecher Tuttle January 04, 2011

Since its launch in April of 2010, Apple's iPad has been a dominant figure in the technology space, accounting for the vast majority of tablet devices sold over the last nine months. For the iPad to experience the same level of success moving forward, however, it will need to stand out from an increasingly crowded marketplace filled with a myriad of competitors trying to knock it off the top spot.

Although a few other tablet devices were introduced at the end of last year, the real firestorm of competition for the iPad is expected to begin later this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, speculated that as many as 80 rival tablet devices could be introduced or teased at this year's show, which officially kicks off on Thursday.

Major players in the gadget space like Dell, Toshiba and Motorola are each expected to unveil a line of tablets that may offer more features than the current iPad, according to the AP. It is anticipated that these devices will be equipped with larger, higher definition touchscreens, rear- and front-facing cameras for video chatting and picture taking, as well an Android operating system designed specifically for tablets.

Furthermore, companies with no real track record in the computing space are also expected to make their presence felt in the tablet space. Television manufacturers like Vizio and AOC each announced competing tablets on Monday, three days before CES kicks off.

Vizio's VIA Tablet will sport an 8-inch high-def touchscreen, a front-facing camera, an HDMI port and a universal remote control app for managing the company's line of Web-enabled TVs. AOC, on the other hand, introduced a less comprehensive and much less expensive device known as the Breeze Tablet. AOC's model will have a lower resolution screen and will run an older version of Android, but will cost less than $200.

"This is the starting gun for tablets," BGC analyst Colin Gillis told the AP about the show. "At CES, the noise is going to get extremely loud."

However, even with buzz of competition in the air, most analysts expect that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet space, at least for the next year.

In fact, Caris & Co. analyst Robert Cihra recently speculated that tablet sales will more than triple this year to a new high of 54 million units, and that Apple will garner a whopping 67 percent of consumer purchases. He anticipates that Apple will sell approximately 36 million iPads in 2011, up from 14 million last year, according to All Things Digital.

Beecher Tuttle is a TechZone360 contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributor

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