Android Tablet, RIM PlayBook Sales Weak vs. iPad: JP Morgan

JP Morgan marked down tablet builds, citing weaker-than-expected demand for Android 3.0 "Honeycomb" and RIM BlackBerry PlayBook tablets as they try to challenge Apple's iPad.

Another prominent equity research firm has ratcheted down its expectations for the tablet market, thanks to weaker-than-expected sales of slates other than Apple's iPad.

JP Morgan said build plans for tablets other than the iPad have slowed, with a prediscounted stockpile of 73 million units versus the firm's March 9 tally of 81 million slates.

"Our research indicates that tablet build plans in the aggregate have declined approximately 10 percent since early March," JP Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz wrote in a report issued June 1. "Beyond Apple's iPad, there has not been another high-volume tablet offering to hit the market."

Moskowitz added that the driver of the prediscounted build decline is the weak volume showing in the market from the non-Apple tablet hopefuls.

Apple has sold more than 20 million iPads since the launch of the seminal slate in April 2010. However, the much-hyped, and Android 3.0 "Honeycomb"-based Motorola Xoom tablet, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asustek Eee Pad Transformer and RIM's PlayBook have sold only in a modest capacity, the analyst wrote.

Officially, the Xoom sold 250,000 units in under two months, while the PlayBook is believed to have sold 250,000 units in one month.

However, Moskowitz said there had been some indications that the Eee Pad Transformer tablet was selling out in the retail channel in April and May, but his research indicated the slate had not even made it to many of the targeted retail outlets prior to the supposed sell-outs.

One reason for the slower-than-expected sales, he cited, is that first generation of non-iPad tablets don't offer compelling price or enough features to drive incremental purchasers within vendors' projections.

Moreover, JP Morgan expects there to be limited build activity because tablet vendors are waiting to see how the back-to-school reception is, as well as waiting to launch 4G LTE tablets.

Ultimately, the firm puts consensus estimates for tablet shipments at around 50 million to 55 million units for 2011.

JP Morgan is hardly the first firm to adjust tablet estimates after Android Honeycomb tablets and the PlayBook failed to follow the iPad in setting the tablet world afire.

Financial research firms Goldman Sachs and Jefferies & Co. have both ratcheted down expectations for the tablet market, thanks to thin demand for Honeycomb tablets.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek noted that his firm six months ago forecast 100 million tablets would sell in 2011. After polling 1,400 consumers in North America, Europe and Asia and performing a competitive analysis, Misek slashed those figures by 30 percent.

"We now believe 70 million to be more realistic due to: 1) Android 3.0 Honeycomb needing polishing, and 2) Android tablets that are priced too high," Misek wrote in a research note May 17.

Goldman Sachs analyst Bill Shope lowered his total tablet market estimates for 2011 and 2012, and raised those for the iPad in the process.

"Our iPad forecast remains unchanged, though we have lowered our non-Apple tablet unit assumptions by 2.3 million units in 2011 and 2012," Shope wrote in a research note.