Media tablets play catch up with portable PCs

Media tablets may seem to be all the rage, but the nascent market still has a ways to go before catching up with traditional portable PC sector.

According to IDC, worldwide media tablet shipments will increase from 7.6 million units in 2010 to more than 46 million units in 2014.

In comparison, a whopping 398 million portable PCs are expected to ship in 2014.

“These are early days for media tablets, an altogether new device category that takes its place between smartphones and portable PCs. [We] expect consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and services,” explained IDC spokesperson Susan Kevorkian.

“The availability of apps unique to media tablets and that differentiate the experience of using one compared with a PC or smartphone will be crucial for driving consumer demand. As the category matures and more media tablet-optimized apps become available, IDC [projects] that media tablets will evolve beyond nice-to-have devices and become necessities for many consumers.”

Kevorkian noted that media tablets were defined as “tablet form factor devices” with 7-12in. color displays. 

“They are currently based on ARM processors and run lightweight operating systems such as Apple’s iPhone OS and Google’s Android OS. This distinguishes them from tablet PCs, which are based on x86 processors and run full PC operating systems,” said Kevorkian.

“Media tablets do not include built-in hardware keyboards but use a stylus/pen or finger for navigation and data input. They provide a broad range of applications and connectivity, differentiating them from primarily single-function devices such as ereaders.”