Blogs & Comment

Rise of the tablet

A new study reveals 6% of Canadians own one. And with prices dropping like stones, that may be just the beginning.

LOSER Samsung

Patent warfare is the name of the game between the Korean company and Apple. Unfortunately for Samsung, a German court passed a preliminary injunction on the sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, and the company voluntarily postponed the tablet’s release in the Land Down Under until a court there delivers a ruling. A Dutch court also banned the sale of three Samsung smartphones in the Netherlands and other EU countries. Samsung launched lawsuits of its own in France and the U.K., and countersued in South Korea, Japan and Germany.

The tablet is at an exciting moment of its development…that is to say, it’s in the early stages of gaining acceptance among consumers. Recently a colleague and I were debating just how extensive its adoption has been, and whether it will ultimately prove a niche product (like a wireless weather station) or become nearly ubiquitous (like a wireless phone.) The question is hardly academic in my business; publications are scratching their heads as to how many readers will be using devices to access publications in the future, and how much resources they should devote to meet that demand.

Ipsos Reid, the survey company, has shed some light on the tablet’s progress to date in Canada. On October 19, it released the results of an online panel study of about 46,000 adult participants, comparing them to a similar study conducted at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of this year about 3% of respondents reported owning a tablet. In August, just eight months later, that number had nearly doubled to 6%. Although that’s still decidedly Niche, Ipsos senior vice president Mary Beth Barbour said in a statement that the tablet “fulfills an entertainment need, and in many cases is replacing some laptop use. We expect Tablets to be among the hottest items for the upcoming holiday season.”

Indeed, the coming months should be instructive. Typically tablets have been akin to large low-end televisions in price, costing somewhere between $350 and $700. But last month Amazon unveiled its Kindle Fire tablet, which goes on sale in the U.S. Nov. 15th at US$199. Kobo recently revealed the Vox, which although described as an eReader has some suspiciously tablet-like features, such as e-mail, video, Web browsing and the ability to run Android apps. It’s also selling at $199 and begins shipping Oct. 28th. Although these are most definitely not iPads, they may bring a new kind of customer into the marketplace—particularly younger Canadians with less disposable income than the affluent early adopters.