The introduction of the Apple iPad into the European market has tripled sales of tablet computers in general, resulting in a 257 percent market boost, according to trend watcher Context Research.
Since the iPad’s introduction in late May, demand for tablet systems has increased dramatically across the continent. The iPad influence may have also helped boost the cost of higher-priced all-in-on mobile PCs by about three percent, as people look for smaller and lighter systems, says the market researcher.
Just as in the U.S., anxious consumers and early adopters camped out all night at Apple Stores in Europe to be the first to purchase the iPad. Apple reportedly sold hundreds of thousands of iPads in the first few weeks following the May 28th introduction in Europe, according to reports.
Total worldwide shipments of the Apple iPad are expected to reach 8.13m units by the end of this year, according to some estimates.
While the Apple iPad sparked interest, however, it may be increasingly difficult for the company to maintain a wide lead from the competition as more companies enter the fray and the market gets more crowded. There are already a number of processor choices, including x86 and ARM-based chips, and operating system alternatives include Android, Chrome, MeeGo and WebOS, noted market researcher IDC. All of this may lead to market fragmentation and dilution.
“In Asia in particular, the iPad is likely to spark off intense competition from Asian brands, leading to a wealth of offerings in varying price tiers,” says Bryan Ma, Associate Vice President, Asia/Pacific Devices and Peripherals Research at IDC.
Tablet devices, like the iPad, are presently marketed as multifunction entertainment devices, he adds. The success of these devices will therefore depend on the availability of local applications and content.
“Media tablets are certainly the talk of the town today, but the next year or so will be critical for the category’s evolution as early adopters figure out what they really need a media tablet for, and in what kind of usage scenario,” notes Ma.