Market for non-Apple tablets does exist

A report from analyst house Context suggests Apple can look forward to losing its grip on the tablet market.

Although the iPad 2 has been top of the pops all year round, there has been increased consumer demand in Europe, particularly with products like the Acer Iconia and the Eee Transformer. Their problem has been the price point – Context and CCS Insight believe there is a demand for non-Apple tablet products but they won’t shift if they’re just as expensive.

Principal analyst at CCS Insight Gavin Byrne reckons Amazon’s marketing prowess will bring new customers to the tablet market. “In the longer term,” he said, “Amazon’s strong media offerings, including streaming movies and TV shows, may threaten Apple’s dominance of this area.”

When companies like Samsung and Asus begin to learn their lessons and release new devices in the fourth quarter of this year, Apple is going to have more real competition on its hands, according to Context. This will be thanks to better hardware and offering Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich update. The company’s obviously got the jitters or it wouldn’t be on a legal rampage, suing the world and its dog for daring to make devices that resemble rectangles.

However, how well they do against Apple will be marred by the fact they’ll be competing against each other. From the fourth quarter, competition is going to heat up and manufacturers will slash prices to boost sales. Some will move to flush stock from their distribution channels. Meanwhile, operator partners will, in the run up to Christmas, offer more tablet and smartphone twin packages.

Salman Chaudhry, mobile analyst at Context, predicts a shake-up of the tablet market when Apple’s competition begins to get serious. “We are expecting factors like operating systems, apps and interworking with existing devices to become part of the decision-making process,” he said.

Until now, Chaudhry believes consumers have played it safe by opting for Apple and the iPad, but that will eventually change. Windows 8 tablets will have an effect on the market, but not until late 2012.