iPad Flying the Flag for Tablet PCs, says Frost

The launch of the iPad paves the way for a new set of devices: tablets, which rise between the mobile experience of smartphones and the computing experience of laptops. These devices, being connected to wireless networks and equipped with all the services and applications of smartphones, can not only offer a better entertainment experience, but also drive new ideas in other industries including publishing and tourism.

So says the analyst, Frost & Sullivan. “The iPad is the tablet that makes the most noise in the market, but it does not come alone. Many other vendors have embraced the idea of a tablet,” says Saverio Romeo, senior industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan’s ICT practice. “At the moment, HP, Asus, Dell and Archos seem to be the most aggressive of Apple’s competitors, at least from a European market perspective.”

Romeo notes that for the iPad’s business model for tablets, Apple has again established a route modelling the use of the device around the Apple App Store, from where applications can be downloaded to the iPad. The model for the iPhone has been simply extended to the tablet. The application revenue model also remains the same: the 70/30 revenue sharing model used for smartphones is still in place for iPad applications, and Apple’s competitors are following a similar route.

Romeo believes that tablets can change the experience of mobile gaming, moving it towards something approaching the console experience. He notes also that the mobile video and TV experience can be more engaging with tablets, due to the increased screen size.

Tablets can also drive new ideas in other industries. For example, the launch of the iPad came with a storm of iPad applications by the main European newspapers: R+ is the iPad application for the Italian newspaper La Repubblica; The Guardian iPad App, Eyewitness, hit 90,000 downloads in just a few hours after the launch; the French Le Figaro has its own app for the iPad. With optimistic comments from editors that a new era of journalism has started, the tablet seems to be the device that enables mobile interactive newspaper distribution ,without limitations related to screen size, Frost believes. But it adds that the debate on the pricing model remains: free and ad-based versus fee-based.

European tourism government agencies and related organizations are also planning to use tablets in places like museums, archaeological sites and at cultural events. They believe that the power of 3D multimedia and the screen sizes of tablets can better capture the imagination of a tourist while moving around ancient cities and art galleries. Other ideas are coming from the hotel industry, with the iPad enabling staff to provide guest services such as satellite maps, street views and video clips of local attractions.

“The iPad has given relevance to the emerging segment of tablets in the mobile device market,” says Romeo. “Apple’s tablet has found the enthusiasm of 2m users in just two months, and it has enabled opportunities in various industries. However, tablet pricing means that these devices are currently aimed at specific consumer segments: early adopters. This enthusiasm is not yet at the mass market level.”

For more on this subject, and/or the mobile communications sector in Europe, send an email to Joanna.lewandowska@frost.com with your full name, company name, job title and contact details.