NEWS FOCUS: Mobiles, tablets and app downloads set to soar

Analysts predict increases right across the board

Media tablet shipments in A/ NZ for 2011 are expected to be double those of 2010, according to analyst firm, IDC.

It predicted that this will be largely driven from the supply-side with the launch of new devices such as a range of Android 3.0 devices, Apple iPad2 and RIM PlayBook and additional new entrants in the media tablets competitive landscape.

Strong interest from CIOs to deploy media tablets within companies and a potential drop in prices due to increased competition could possibly lead to the demand as well.

Research by the company showed after a strong end to 2010, media tablet shipments across the region decreased by 34 per cent quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) to slightly above 200,000 units in Q1 2011.

IDC Australia market analyst, Yee-Kuan Lau, said, “The decrease in shipments is a result of weak consumer demand after a busy Christmas period, proceeded by the anticipation of Apple’s iPad 2 and a series of Android 3.0 Honeycomb devices.”

According to Lau, consumers interested in owning a media tablet device may have already purchased the iPad 2 at the end of March and the launch of the Android 3.0 Honeycomb media tablets from May onwards will be the first sign of disruption in the market.

He said the second largest vendor in Q1, Samsung, was affected by excessive channel inventory of Galaxy Tab from the previous quarter.

“While the launch of Android 3.0 Honeycomb media tablets may not be significant enough to cause a shift in the competitors’ landscape now, this will spur growth in Android tablets within 2011,” Lau said.

IDC forecasted Android media tablet shipments to triple this year, with iOS devices maintaining a leadership position in the market and the media tablet marketplace to be more saturated in 2H 2011 with new entrants like webOS and Blackberry OS devices.

“There were more Android media tablets released this year from several new entrants, such as Samsung, Motorola, Toshiba, Acer, Asus. Furthermore, the Android 2.2 devices from Samsung, Optus and Telstra were only launched in Q4 2010, which explains the significant growth in Android media tablets,” he added.

In the long run, the media tablet annual growth rate is expected to slowly decline as the market matures.

Nevertheless, it said price points, applications and connectivity will be key growth drivers and price points may progressively drop as component costs decline and competition ramps up – driving end-user demand.

On the smartphone front, Google is claiming that more than half a million Android phones are activated every day. That feat was enough for the platform to outdo Apple’s iPhone in the U.S. in March, according to a Nielsen survey.

Perhaps the only number where Android falls down is with the number of available Android apps, which is now over 200,000. That’s still behind the iPhone’s 425,000, according to Apple’s iPhone website.

The Android edge is ...

Many analysts focus on the number of applications available to a platform. It’s not that any one user would ever buy and download more than a few dozen apps – much less tens of thousands – but the volume of apps in an application storefront shows where small independent developers are spending their time. It’s also probably where they’re making the most money, analysts have noted.

Still, for manufacturers like Samsung and HTC that benefit from the open Android platform, it is important to know that the Android devices will have a big edge in numbers of devices sold for years to come.

In all, there are more than 300 different Android phones from several manufacturers and hundreds of wireless carriers globally, boosting Android’s ability to grow. By comparison, there are still only four basic iPhone generation devices built during the last four years. The latest expectation is that an iPhone 5 and and an iPhone 4s for Sprint and other carriers will be released in September.

IDC also expects that by 2015, people will have downloaded a staggering 182 billion mobile applications. That’s up from ‘just’ 10.7 billion in 2010.

With that is a changing monetisation model for developers of applications. According to IDC in-app purchasing is fast becoming the method for generating revenue; App developers are emulating creators of mobile games who have long used in-game sales of additional levels, features and functions for revenue.

The shift toward monetising through in-app purchases will require app developers to think differently about their apps in terms of how they incorporate in-app purchasing, IDC claims.

Additional reporting by Matt Hamblen and Nancy Gohring

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