Media tablets in the Asia Pacific region except Japan (APEJ) are expected to grow 10 times in four years' time, driven by on-the-go applications such as gaming, Web browsing and social networking.
According to a recent study by IDC, developed countries in the region, such as South Korea, Australia and Taiwan, are leading in media tablet adoption. However, there are still other countries in the region which are more "conservative", preferring small notebooks over tablets.
A compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 54 per cent is expected up to 2015, with shipments reaching 21 million from the two million shipped in 2010.
Among the more popular brands in the region are Apple's iPad and Korean brand Samsung. IDC said Apple's "aggressive pricing and strong branding" made its iPad 2 a top favourite in the region, leaving "little room for other players to prosper".
Samsung was able to rely on its domestic brand to boost its numbers. Other Chinese brands are at the tail end of the market. "With product development speed being their key strength, they may survive in some niche markets," IDC said.
"Over the next five years, Apple will set the pace for the media tablet category. Competitors to iPad must innovate ways to differentiate their products though, lest consumer interest wanes in favour of the next tech gadget," said Melissa Chau, research manager for client devices research, IDC Asia Pacific.
Demand for other brands of media tablets in the region are driven by some other factors, said Chau.
"Some of this demand may be driven by the education sector, such as the Thai government's recently announced plan to distribute 800,000 Android tablets to primary school students. While this latest announcement has not been yet factored into IDC's forecast, there are certainly opportunities out there to keep driving media tablet growth."
E-readers are also popular in the region but with a lower CAGR of 18 per cent as the device has only a single function. IDC even noted that some media tablets make better e-readers because of better colour display.
"Lack of localised content is an issue for e-readers in APEJ. In China, for example, some consumers are still relying on pirated Internet downloads. Online bookstores haven't been earning device vendors wide margins on content, and face aggressive iPad pricing, squeezing them further," said Dickie Chang, senior market analyst for client devices research, IDC Asia Pacific.
Similar to media tablets, some Chinese brands are figuring in the e-reader market. Hanvon and Snda, for example, are top favourites in China because they entered the market ahead of the other brands. E-readers in China are considered gifts although IDC noted that the China market is also looking at media tablets to do the job of e-readers.
Amazon's Kindle is only popular in some Asia Pacific countries, notably in English-speaking countries, such as Australia and New Zealand.
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