The average tablet price, during the first quarter of 2012, fell 21 percent to $386, compared with a year ago, IMS Research reported June 8, citing data from its quarterly tablet tracker. While low-end tablets with much in common are having to compete aggressively on pricing, the dramatic first-quarter drop is largely attributed to the dominating player on the high end of the market: Apples iPad.
Apples decision to lower the price of the iPad 2 to $399, following the introduction of its third-generation iPad, has meant greater price pressure on its rivals, forcing them also to reduce price to make their products competitive, said the report.
While makers of low-end tablets, typically priced below $200, are seeing booming shipments, theyve still had to lower prices. Theyve been rewarded, the report added, by winning widespread adoption this quarter, generally in emerging markets.
There are few innovations from vendors to differentiate their tablets; low price seems to be the major factor to attract consumers to buy tablets other than iPads, report author Gerry Xu said in a statement. More vendors are expected to focus on the low-end tablet market. However, to balance performance and profitability with a low price remains challenging for most tablet vendors.
A Fujitsu marketing executive, introducing a new Ultrabook this week, likened the low-end of the Android tablet market chasing after the lowest prices to the netbook marketwhich has barely been given a backward glance since the introduction of tablets.
According to IMS data, the average tablet selling price during the first quarter of 2011 was $488, which climbed to $525 during the second quarter. The third quarter of 2012 saw a steep fall, to $438, and remained mostly consistent into the fourth quarter, rising only to $444. During the first quarter, however, with the introduction of the newest iPad, came the drop to $386.
Analysts had speculated that, while a $500 iPad was hardly a competitor to the $199 Amazon Kindle Firewhich sold strongly through the fourth-quarter holiday seasona $400 iPad 2 had greater potential to woo away potential Amazon buyers.
On the day of the third-generation iPads arrival, IMS Xu, in a statement, said he expected little growth for non-iPad tablets, with the exception of the Kindle Fire and tablets running Windows 8, which are expected to arrive during the fourth quarter.
To date, he added, there is no significant threat to the iPads continued dominance in the tablet market. In fact, he added, the share of Android tablets is forecast to fall from 35 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012.
Xu reiterated that the majority of future Android tablets will target the low-cost side of the market.
During the first quarter, according to research firm IDC, Apple shipped 11.8 million iPads, for a 68 percent share of the market. The mainstream Android vendors, IDC Research Director Tom Mainelli said in a May 3 statement, were beginning to grasp what Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Pandigital figured out early: that to compete against Apple, they must offer their products at notably lower price points.
Mainelli added that the impact of tablets running Windows 8 remains to be seen, though pricing will again be important, as will consumer reception to the tablets and their ability to integrate with traditional Windows systems.
The worldwide tablet market, IDC Program Vice President Bob ODonnell added, is entering a new phase in the second half of 2012 that will undoubtedly reshape the competitive landscape.