Countdown to the Christmas tablet war

Have you noticed? It’s nearly Christmas.

I know, it’s October.

There’s no escaping it. Whether you’re immersed in your own Christmas campaign, seen the ads already on TV, or your corner shop is already selling tinsel, Christmas is coming earlier this year.

The tablet – iPad or otherwise – is sure to be a big draw this year and top of many a Christmas list.

After its success (the company has reportedly sold 3m in 80 days since launch) other tech brands including Samsung, Dell, Nokia, Toshiba, LG, Palm and Motorola are all keen to launch their tablets as early as possible to capitalise on the Christmas boom, and pre January VAT-increase.

Analysts ABI believe 11m tablets will be sold by the end of the year, with Barclays Capital quoting 15m in 2010, and 28m in 2011.

BlackBerry’s Playbook won’t be one of them. Blackberry manufacturer RIM announced this week it will launch its tablet in the first half of next year, with a focus on the professional market, much like the Blackberry smart phone.

As well as the hardware, many companies, particularly media brands, are all pushing their iPad apps with gusto. Some have been dedicating full pages of newsprint to pushing their apps in recent weeks.

One must remember though, a iPad is not just for Christmas. In the phone market, sales of Android smart phones – Apple’s iPhone’s main rival operating system – are already overtaking iPhones, and we are likely to see the same trend with iPads as we move into the next year.

Could this be a problem with the uptake of iPad apps as more tablets – many of which use the Andriod platform – come to market?

In the UK this may not be a big issue. Orange’s Mobile Exposure report this week showed that in the UK, browsers are more popular than apps, so any internet enabled device wins there.

Another loser in this tablet war could the poor old netbook. Netbook sales have soared in the last few years, but might their success be short lived as everyone gets over excited about tablets. Will the netbook become the Rudolph to the tablet’s Blitzen?That remains to be seen.

What we do know is the brands that make a success of their pre-Christmas tablet campaigns, will have less of a hangover come 1 January.

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