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The Guardian: Apple probably already top tablet supplier


There's a great article at The Guardian today that compares the iPad's introduction to that of the iPod and iPhone, and offers interesting numbers regarding Apple's share of the tablet market.

Last January, IDC analyst David Daoud projected that sales of non-Apple tablet PCs will fall to 1.25 million units in 2010 (down from 1.32 million in 2008). At the same time, projected iPad sales for 2010 range from Piper Jaffray's estimate of 4.3 million to Forrester's 3 million (iSuppli says 7 million, but that seems a bit nuts).

Let's say they're all way off and go with a conservative guess of 2 million units sold. Even that number would make Apple the largest tablet computer manufacturer in the world. Already.

The Guardian's Charles Arthur sees Apple's swift entry, re-design and eventual dominance of these markets as a pattern. The iPod introduced a hard drive-based music player to the small market and eventually took over.

Yes, the mobile phone market was huge when the iPhone was released, but the smartphone subset wasn't. Apple introduced multi-touch and apps and is working towards dominance.

Now, Charles sees the same thing happening with the iPad. I think he's spot on with this. I also think the iPad's rise to prominence will be much slower than the other devices experienced. When the iPhone was introduced, people were eager for an alternative. Existing phones were clunky, often unreliable and a hassle. Users wanted an opportunity to ditch them.

Likewise, early digital music players left a lot to be desired. I had a Rio that I used for lack of other options.

For the iPad, it's not so simple. Most people don't have tablets, so there's no palpable need to be relieved of frustration. Instead, users are left comparing it to devices that they like: Their laptops, iPhones and iPods. The solution, of course, is to get one in people's hands. I can say first-hand that once you use it, you get it.

This time, that will take longer than Apple is used to.

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