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Sorry RIM, but consumers aren't interested in budget tablets

by Doug Drinkwater

February 24 2012

RIM's PlayBook can now be purchased for $199 in the US, and £169 in the UK
RIM's PlayBook can now be purchased for $199 in the US, and £169 in the UK

A new survey conducted by Broadbandgenie.co.uk, a broadband comparison website, suggests that less than one in ten (8.5%) UK consumers intend to ‘definitely’ buy a budget tablet at some point this year.

The poll asked more than 1,000 respondents if they intended to buy a tablet in 2012, and surprisingly found that more than one in four consumers own a tablet already (27.5%). Another 30% said they definitely do not plan to buy a slate-like device in the next ten months, 16.5% said that they may buy a tablet in 2012, while 17.5% indicated a preference to buy a high-end tablet. Just 8.5% said that they were looking to buy a budget tablet this year.

"We were quite surprised by the results at first, but in truth it makes sense when you put it in context of what’s available out there for UK consumers right now”, said Broadband Genie editor, Chris Marling.

"While American consumers are enjoying feature rich low-end tablets such as the Nook and the Kindle Fire, we’re stuck with what are essentially over-priced, over-sized smartphones.

"While Apple is going great guns at the top-end with its iPads, very little is happening of interest at the budget price point as yet. While it’s great to see the BlackBerry PlayBook finally getting an OS upgrade, it could be too little too late."

Almost all budget tablets to date have been based on Google's Android operating system, although price drops for RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook (QNX OS) and HP's TouchPad (webOS) have pushed these more feature-rich tablets into this sphere, and actually helped HP to achieve strong TouchPad sales in the second half of last year.

The entry-level Android tablets have struggled to gain anything more than a foothold in the tablet market to date, with poor sales reflecting that consumers are generally unimpressed with the limited functionality, clunky user interfaces, and lack of quality tablet applications offered by these devices.

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