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Media tablet tales from VARs

The market for media tablets is exploding, but it has a long way to go before it overtakes traditional portable personal computers.

Let's put things in perspective. Yes, the market for media tablets is exploding, but it has a long way to go before it overtakes traditional portable personal computers.

Market research firm IDC defines media tablets as devices with 7-inch to 12-inch color displays that run on lightweight processors and operating systems, such as the Apple iPad. IDC's research doesn't include full-fledged tablet PCs that are based on x86 processors and full PC operating systems in those projections. Their appeal is similar to those of netbooks: ease of use and wireless Internet connectivity.

Projections from IDC call for 46 million units of so-called media tablets to be shipped annually by 2014, compared with an anticipated 7.6 million units in 2010. That's still a lot smaller than the market for portable PCs in general: Close to 398 million units of notebooks and netbooks will be shipped in 2014, IDC predicts.
But it would be a mistake to ignore the current generation of streamlined media tablets, according to solution providers.

Derek Downs, vice president of advanced collaboration solutions division of network integrator INX Inc. in Houston, said the tablet phenomenon escalated in ways that his company didn't imagine at the beginning of 2010. Healthcare professionals, in particular, are intrigued by potential applications at the point of care, he said.

Many clients are looking at the iPad, in particular, as a tool for giving their executives access to the most current information possible in critical boardroom or customer meetings, said Matt Bossom, solutions engineer for Denver-based security VAR Accuvant Inc. The iPad's screen size and its support for AES encryption and WPA2 security protocols over Wi-Fi networks has helped assuage security concerns, Bossom said. "Some of the shift has to do with people going paperless," he said.

Top Five Smartphone Vendors, Q3 2010
(Millions of units shipped)


3Q 2010 Unit Shipments

3Q 2009 Unit Shipments


26.5 million

16.4 million


14.1 million

7.4 million


12.4 million

8.5 million


7.2 million

1.2 million


5.8 million

4.9 million

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, November 2010

About the expert
Heather Clancy is an award-winning business journalist in the New York area with more than 20 years experience. Her articles have appeared in Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times. Clancy was previously editor at Computer Reseller News, a B2B trade publication covering news and trends about the high-tech channel.

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