updated 04:55 pm EDT, Thu October 6, 2011
ABI says tablets 3 of 4 ultramobile PCs in 2011
Tablets have grown quickly enough that they're now the vast majority of ultramobile PCs in the US, ABI Research determined Thursday. For the year as a whole, the researchers estimated that the iPad and similar tablets would make up 75 percent of the category. The remaining 25 percent would be led by netbooks, but it would also have to split that share with niche PCs like Mobile Internet Devices.
Netbooks would still survive, although they would never get back to their high of 9.9 million shipped in 2010, ABI said. Their sales would go mostly to developing countries where difficulty getting computers or home-based Internet access made netbooks better prospects.
The study warned that tablets were in a fragile place and might not necessarily hold on to their current share. No non-traditional category has ever stayed on top of the group for more than three years, leaving Apple and their kind limited time to make tablets 'sticky' in the market. "There needs to be a fundamental shift in buying behavior driven by lifestyle enhancements and workplace requirements," research group lead Jeff Orr said.
Apple has so far stayed relevant through having a large app ecosystem and by having the performance to handle tasks that even most other dual-core tablets can't manage. Others have mostly tried specialized features, such as the Sony Tablet S' infrared remote, or the enterprise-focused features of the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet.
The crash of netbook demand has been acute and enough to shake up the whole PC industry. Acer has leaned very heavily on netbooks and has repeatedly insisted that tablets would disappear after a few months, but this trust has led it to rare losses and a rapid drop in PC market share.