Media tablet shipments to reach about 57 million annually by 2015, says ABI Research

Apple's iPad tablet computing device marks the start of a new market segment for media tablets and w

By 2015, shipments are expected to reach about 57 million annually. Jeff Orr, senior analyst at ABI Research, said: "Apple's iPad is not the first media tablet. But it does help define this new device category. The main focus of media tablets is entertainment.

"A tablet will not replace a laptop, netbook or mobile phone, but will remain an additional premium or luxury product for wealthy industrialized markets for at least several years."

ABI Research defines media tablets as having a touch-screen interface, 5-11 inches in size, with Wi-Fi internet connectivity and video and gaming capabilities. According to ABI Research, the players in the new market segment for media tablets fall into two camps, traditional computer vendors such as Lenovo, HP, and Asus; and a new, smaller vendors such as ICD and Notion Ink.

The smaller vendors are often quite small and little known and they see this market as an entry-point. Apple is one part of the mix and is expected to be probably a fairly sizeable player, says Mr Orr.

Mr Orr believes: "The biggest challenge faced by the media tablet category is how they will reach the market and generate awareness among potential buyers. New entrants to this market are at a disadvantage since they lack the retail relationships and network operator agreements already built by the more mature vendors. Surprisingly, Apple may have done them a favor by raising the public profile of the whole media tablet category."