Apple’s iPad2 vs. Android: who are the contenders for 2011 tablet domination?01/03/2011 16:19 by Richard Preedy
Despite a deluge of new device offerings, tablet PCs look unlikely to become mass market this year, meaning individual manufacturers will have to strongly differentiate their products to grab the limited share of the market available. Apple still dominates in consumer minds, but Samsung, Blackberry and other Android devices look set to offer a compelling challenge.
As expected, February’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and the CES show in January revealed a surge of new tablet offerings from the major hardware manufacturers, all vying to compete with the success of the ubiquitous Apple iPad.
But while the tablet market is clearly in ascendancy, at present it is still very much nascent and we are unlikely to see the same growth this year as we expect from other categories, such as Smartphones.[i]
2011 tablet market likely to remain niche
In a recent GfK survey, only 7% of a sample of UK adults stated they were considering purchasing a tablet PC over the next 12 months – not much up from October last year, when a similar question was posed.[ii] In contrast, almost a quarter (23%) indicated that they intend to purchase a smartphone – a differential that neatly highlights the gulf between the two categories.
When we looked at the target demographic for Tablet PCs, purchase interest in tablets noticeably increased amongst males (10%), those aged 25 – 34 (11%) and those of a higher annual income (16 % of those earning £48,000+ expressed likelihood to purchase.) Mass market devices these are not.
So, if we accept that a finite number of tablet sales are possible this year, clearly not everyone from the multitude of rivals is going to be successful in the race to steal market share from Apple. With this in mind (and prior to any tangible product details/ release date information being made available from the majority of manufacturers), we thought it would be interesting to see which brands are currently on the consumer radar in the UK and which are likely to succeed when the inevitable onslaught of releases begins.
Who are the competitors?
Not surprisingly (and let’s get this out the way first), Apple continues to dominate the tablet space in consumer minds. There is almost universal association of the Apple brand with tablet PCs and, amongst those looking to purchase a device this year, a huge 78% said they would consider Apple, and 67% named Apple as the brand they are “most likely to purchase”. These figures are only likely to increase now that rumours have started that the iPad2 may be launching sooner than expected (March 2nd).[iii]
2. Samsung and Blackberry/RIM
Sitting below Apple, Samsung and BlackBerry/RIM enjoy the second highest levels of awareness and consideration amongst UK consumers – not entirely surprising, given that both brands have devices that have been visible to consumers for a few months (the well-reviewed Galaxy Tablet and the delayed, but soon-to-be launched, Playbook). The graphic below shows their comparative scorings:
3. Google’s Android 3.0 (‘Honeycomb’ operating system)
The biggest buzz at the recent consumer shows was around Google’s Android 3.0 (‘Honeycomb’) operating system and, interestingly, ‘Google’ as a separate entity, received relatively high levels of consideration (22%) and preference (6%) in our consumer survey. Motorola’s Xoom, set to launch on February 24th in the US, will be the first device to run Honeycomb.[iv] However, despite the device claiming the coveted “Best of Show” prize at the CES show, consideration of Motorola as a tablet provider was relatively low in the UK (only 9% consideration and 1% purchase preference).
While many of the brands outside Apple did not score highly with consumers on an individual level, when we look at all of the brands running Android on their tablets cumulatively (including HTC, LG and Motorola), we see some serious competition.
This is good news for Google, but the challenge for the remaining manufacturers will clearly be to differentiate their products from all the other tablets utilising the same (admittedly very nice) user interface. Our data suggests consumers are more likely to side with the same manufacturer of their current Smartphone, as there is clearly interest in buying into an ecosystem and the cross-device potential this offers. In the UK, therefore, we’d instinctively feel that HTC and BlackBerry could profit from this, given their current strength in the market. This would also explain the relatively low consideration from our sample for Motorola, whose stock has fallen in the UK mobile market.
Of course, this is all academic until the devices themselves are launched – and it may be that we see a different picture 6 months down the line, when the Android devices are more widely available. But, with the iPad 2 looming and set to take the wind out of competitor sails (and indeed ‘sales’), it’s clear that BlackBerry and the others should try to launch sooner rather than later.
Survey data: As always, the wider survey data referenced in this blog post is freely available. Please use the ‘About GfK Tech Talk’ tab at the top of the page to contact us if you would like to see more data on this topic.
[i] See http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2011/feb/14/mobile-world-congress-2011-live-coverage analysts have estimated that approximately 44 million tablets will be sold in 2011, compared to over 1.5 billion mobile phones
[ii] Survey conducted February 2011 amongst a representative sample of internet users in the UK (n=960). The previous survey took place in October 2010 with a sample of 881 internet users. Please see http://www.gfktechtalk.com/category/tablets-pcs-ereaders/ for details. NB. Due to the small proportion looking to purchase tablet PC, the base size is relatively low, so the graphic should be treated as indicative only.
[iii] An iPad2 event is rumoured to be scheduled for March 2nd in San Francisco: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2011/02/ipad-2-march
The excellent image is provided by Mike Licht at NotionsCapital.com:
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