The idea of tablet computers is not new. The first prototype for one such device was first proposed by a scientist named Alan Kay back in 1968. He published a paper in 1972 about the device, calling it Dynabook.
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Sketches of Dynabook show a device that closely resemble current tablet PCs, with the exception of a physical keyboard possessed by the device and absent from most current tablet PCs. An early tablet PC came in the 1989, the GRIDPad – a heavy (5 pound), capacitive touch screen enabled tablet PC that had battery life of around 3 hours and a wired stylus. Many other pen-based tablet PCs came to the market but none made significant progress.
It was, however, only when the first iPad was introduced in April 2010 that tablet PCs became viable to the larger crowd.
This tablet PC, which is cordially called the first modern tablet PC helped the tablet PC market gain firm ground in the U.S. introduction of iPad led to intense competition in the touch-screen devices market. Computer innovators such as Hewlett Packard, Asus, LG, and Samsung began introducing their tablet PCs in the market; Samsung introduced its first tablet PC, the Samsung Galaxy Tab within five months from the launch of iPad.
Today, companies such as Apple, Google, HP, and Microsoft are trying to develop next generation of tablet PCs while trying to predict consumer needs.
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Tablet PC market in the U.S. - Market Statistics
Ever changing needs of the end-user have pushed the capabilities and design of the tablet PCs market forward through necessity. The rapid evolvement of the myriad of technologies backing tablet computers has allowed the rapid proliferation of these slate-like computers in the consumer market. Their popularity continues to grow as lives become fast, and customer choices become increasingly diverse.
If market analysts are to be believed, the number of tablet PC users should hit the 25 million mark this year, with nearly 80% of the population possessing a tablet PC by 2015. By the end of 2018, this market number should transform to a whopping 71 million units-mark, with the market growing at a 13% CAGR until 2018.
Tablet PC market in the U.S. – Segmentation
Amongst the various end-user segments of the U.S. tablet PC market, the segment of personal use currently holds the highest share of demand for tablet PCs due to their use for entertainment and gaming purposes. The segment of corporate use is expected to grow at the fastest rate in the near future as businesses are shifting towards tablet PCs for employee use to cut costs on laptops and desktop computers.
In terms of the operating system used to drive tablet PCs, the iOS system of Apple held nearly 80% shares of the market in the year 2010 – the year when the iPad was launched. Though iOS acquired the early-bird advantage, popularity of Google’s Android operating system also gained significant momentum in the following years. Looking at its popularity and increasing use in most popular non-Apple tablet PCs, market shares of Android could easily surpass those of the iOS by 2017.
Non-store based selling is currently the dominant distribution channel in the U.S., a trend that became popular due to exclusive online availability of the first iPad. However, as mass retailers and specialty stores continue to promote Android based tablet PCs through their retail shops, the share of store-based distribution network is expected to increase in the future.
Tablet PC market in the U.S – Viable Market Players
Apple is undoubtedly the largest player in the U.S. tablet PC market – in both, device as well as the operating system categories. Nearly 70% shares of the market are held by Apple devices and iOS. The remaining shares of market are held by Google’s Android operating system, which is used by most tablet PC manufacturers including Samsung, Asus, HP, Lenovo, etc.
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