The tablet market is slated for a huge change, with the tablet medium likely to metamorphose into a mainstream computing device from what was originally launched as a secondary device. This change is expected to come across not only in the global market, but also the Indian market, with the launch of Google’s Nexus 7 in India. The popularity of tablets is increasing worldwide, with users shifting to this medium on a daily basis.
There is a trend that has started in the year 2012 for smaller, more affordable tablets, which is set to grow this year as well. More than half of the market share for tablets has been seized by the 8 inch and smaller screen form factors. Understandably, the major growth in this market in India has been seen in the sub Rs. 10,000 segments. Players like Micromax, Datawind, Karbonn and others are giving multinational manufacturers a run for their money, with Micromax coming out as the leader in this segment in India. The total number of devices that were sold was around 3 million units last year, with the number set to likely increase twofold this year with the likes of Google entering the fray
New launches this year
More and more manufacturers are taking a serious interest in the Indian tablet market and looking at the growth potential. Google Nexus 7 is finally launched in India, and is challenging the likes of Micromax and Samsung. This launch is interesting as the Google Nexus 7 is one of the best-selling tablets in the world. Also, this year will see Windows 8 tablets becoming more widely available as Microsoft continues to market the Windows 8 tablet form factor very aggressively. Although not confirmed yet, the Surface tablet should also be available in India, if Microsoft has any change of gaining ground in this market.
Can tablets become main-stream?
Throughout last year, there has been a considerable amount of research studies that were conducted to understand the usability of the tablet in a mainstream environment, rather than its use as an entertainment device. The tablet form factor is such that it can be used in a multitude of ways. It is also a great education tool, as evidenced by the fact that most educational institutions in the U.S and elsewhere now make available content that can be delivered directly to these devices. Business users are also seeing the benefits of using tablets in an office environment, as they are easier to carry around than chunky notebooks. As such, manufacturers like HP have lost an incredible amount of ground, not to mention market value, in the last 2 years. Where others have lost ground, it seems some are looking to gain it. Google, in general, is intent on making sure that the Nexus 7 is a hit in the tablet world.
Tablet devices are generally available in two variants: With 3G connectivity, and without. With reliable 3G networks growing in India as well as launch of 4G LTE services, it makes sense to buy tablets that have 3G radios so as to make advantage of connectivity on the go. Major manufacturers are launching devices around the 10K, 20K and 30K mark, and some have even undergo price correction to maintain their presence. The Sub-5000 tablets are heading towards extinction as they are absolutely drab. Most devices in this category have a very low build-quality, and as such are not usable on a day to day basis.
In terms of the high-end tablet sales, Samsung has done very well in India with its Galaxy Tab. With offerings from Motorola, Asus, Sony and Apple also available, choice is not a constraint when choosing the best one out of the many available in the high-end segment. Also, Google is looking to buck the trend with its offering, the Nexus 7, that falls in the mid-tier segment but offers far more features than other tablets in its category. Google is looking to make the most of its hardware ventures by offering great devices at an affordable cost. Most of these tablets come with a host of features that make the best of both hardware as well as software, like the Asus Transformer.
The bevy of new form factors and ecosystems to choose from signifies how diverse the tablet environment has become. It is clear that the tablet form factor is here to stay. With every hardware manufacturer launching a new tablet every few months, the field is set to grow by a huge margin over the following year. Long gone are the days when a single tablet can stake claim on the entire market. With tablet prices set in such a way that a wide category of audience can select a device that fits their needs, it would be no wonder if tablet sales exceed those of notebooks in India in 2013.
Rohit Asthana is the editor of BayOfBlog, where he writes about technology, mobiles and the latest in the world of gadgets. In his free time, he reads novels and watches football.