It's a safe bet that more tablets than ever will be given as gifts this Christmas, but that doesn't mean all tablet makers will benefit equally.
The festive period is now just weeks away, and 2012 has been marked by some as the first ‘tablet Christmas’, owing to a huge number of tablets expected to be bought over the holidays.
The CEA recently estimated that tablets will outsell TVs and digital cameras combined over the Christmas period, almost single-handedly reviving a flagging PC market in the process, while another report puts tablet sales up by 1,000% on British shores.
With all this in mind, here are the industries that can expect to benefit from the ‘Tablet Christmas’.
Retailers with tablet-optimized websites
Tablet-based commerce has truly taken flight in 2012. Reports over the last year have hailed the tablet for often having higher conversion rates than the PC, while eCommerce expert François Gaumond recently told TabTimes that mobile phones are more often for shopping, with tablets for purchasing.
The UK alone is set for a 166% rise in tablet shopping over Christmas, more than any other European market, and you can bet most of this to happen over the iPad, which has been proclaimed as the leading mobile and tablet for shopping.
However, other statistics would suggest that relatively few retailers will gain out of the much tablet ordering over Christmas. After all, one study suggested that a mighty 93% of major U.S. retailers do not have tablet-friendly websites.
Gadget accessories is a big business – one analyst estimated earlier this year that Apple rakes in $500 million each quarter on just Smart Covers, connectors and other add-ons, while one accessory maker puts the valuation of iOS accessories at $2.3 billion a year alone.
Nonetheless, with new devices like the iPad mini, the Surface RT, the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 10 already in the market, you can bet that a fair few of these will be getting equipped with keyboards, covers and stands, among other accessories, come December 25.
That’s good news for makers of tablet accessories. The market for iOS accessories is currently worth $2.3 billion and growing fast.
British magazine publisher Future recently estimated that its digital titles took £6 million this year, but more importantly the group expects to see these sales jump up even further as a result of the ‘tablet Christmas’.
"We are expecting quite a spike in December from sales of tablets which look like they will be big again this Christmas,” said Future chief executive Mark Wood, who puts this trend down to the rise of the Kindle Fire, the arrival of Microsoft’s Surface and the new features for digitals subscriptions on Google Play.
Trade association the Professional Publishers Association also expects strong tablet sales over Christmas and the new year to help the rise of tablet magazines.
Android tablet manufacturers
Industry observers have already detailed that Android tablet market share has been eating into the iPad’s dominance, and that trend looks set to continue over the festive period, much to the delight of Amazon, Google and Samsung.
“We expect to see consumer tablets doing very well this Christmas as consumers, for the first time, have a real choice between high quality tablets,” said Context mobile analyst Salman Chaudhry.
“Android has been making big headway in the consumer space throughout the year and, looking at our European data, we have seen Nexus 7 and Samsung eating into iPad shares.”
The iPad mini
Market research firm IDC has already predicted that 2013 will be the year when sub 8-inch tablets emerge into the spotlight, but NPD DisplaySearch’s Stephen Baker reckons that this trend may also be seen in the holiday season sales, good news for Apple with the 7.85-inch iPad mini.
Business IT departments
The vast majority of tablet sales over the festive period will be for consumers only, but there will be some that take their new iPad, iPad mini, Android tablet or Surface into work for the first time on the first day back.
And, far from just making it a busy first day back for these IT departments, they may also have to cope with a shift to a smaller form factor says one analyst.
“I think the biggest issues [for businesses over the Christmas period] are the small screen tablets and how that might change support needs or company specific apps,” said NPD DisplaySearch’s Stephen Baker.
The Redmond software giant may have got both the Surface RT tablet and Windows 8 out the gate, but distribution, confusion and high prices are likely to stop either from becoming a barnstorming success over the festive period.
And although Surface sales might get a lift from Microsoft’s new distribution deals with Staples and Best Buy, the firm will lose out from slow Windows 8 upgrades and the unavailability of the Surface Pro, the Intel processor model being aimed at businesses, which debuts in January.