Tablets face retail channel struggle

DisplaySearch has conducted research into the way Android tablets will be sold, something which will be key to the success of the devices.

The analysis follows the company’s visit to Google’s Android Honeycomb event earlier this week where researchers were given the opportunity to have a play with the Android-based tablet’s hardware and software using the Motorola Xoom.

The user interface included apps arranged in grids and stacks, while the larger screen of the Android tablets, compared to Android phones, was said to  give a greater graphical usage experience and more opportunity for media-based multitasking.

The company also found that there was a “handful of compelling applications that took advantage of the larger screen and higher horsepower of the Android tablets, as compared to Android phones.”

It added the way these tablets are marketed will be essential to their success – pointing out that this is “arguably a hybrid of a phone and a PC.” That’s because it turns on quickly and lasts as long as a smart phone, but the operating system is a lot more robust and faster than those found in its smaller cousins. 

Because of the array of features from different technologies, the tablet may find it hard to fit into any selling categories. DisplaySearch reckons, as it has seen in the mini notebook category, carriers struggled to sell and have problems with technical support. The tablet market, according to DisplaySearch, could suffer the same fate with people worrying who to call if there’s a problem.

DisplaySearch adds that if a carrier is in charge of technical support, there could be questions about how well-equipped they are to solve problems. Carrier tech support is essentially trained to tell the user to turn off the device and turn it back on again.

PC makers, says DisplaySearch, also aren’t suitable for selling tablets as a range of companies, including HP and Dell, are already failing to flog ranges successfully.

Customer experience with technical support is also low, according to analysts.

It believes that if the device is smartphone based then the carrier could be the best channel.

However if they are more like PCs, then CE retail will be better. But the fact that tablets do not fit neatly into either classification makes the choice unclear.