back to article The future of the fondleslab belongs to the Fire

Well over half the of the tablet market will be comprised of cheap tablets by 2016, it has been forecast. Cheap is defined by market watcher ABI Research, which made the prediction, as costing less than $400 (£253). That's where the vast majority of new entrants into the arena will come, ABI reckons, many of them aimed at …


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  1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    Analyst BS 101

    Define random price point at which ipad is not sold but Fire is.

    Give it a semi-catchy name. "Cheap Tablets"

    Make random comments that pertain to same.

    Results - either stating the bleeding obvious and/or utter analyst bullshit.

    Release statement on slow news day.

    Justify analysts existence for 10 more seconds.

    Seriously - how much do these jerks get paid for coming out with this?

  2. Chris Phillips

    So is this finally looking like a genuine format to get internet access to everyone in the modern world? All the confused old grannies and uneducated masses finally have a realistic bombproof way to use computers and not get left behind as the rest of society passes them?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge


      Playing games on consoles was easy '93... pop in cartridge, power on.

      Playing games on PCs involved editing and renaming Config.sys, autoexec.bat, making sure you had enough harddisk space to install off a dozen floppy disks, configuring sound emulators, IRQs... all just to achieve more-or-less the same end.

      Mr Phillips: I am reading your comment in the context of a news story just last week regarding the election of Police Commissioners and the decision to make said process online-only. I'm assuming that you that at the very minimum is that there should be "a realistic bombproof way" for everyone to use government services (democratic participation, health, council), and also sources of information and education (thus text, images, video).

      Many of the 'confused old grannies' are able and willing to learn technology... it's just that the technology keeps changing. It doesn't stand still for long enough for people to learn fluently.

      A 'format' is like CD, SNES, Master System, Playstation, XBOX. Formats which stood still for several years. iPad, with its walled garden, seems close to this concept, but deliberately priced beyond the "uneducated masses" (but not beyond a fair few "grannies").

      Obviously a simple, reliable, bombproof and secure system of connecting via 3rd party wi-fi hotspots (for those who don't have their own) and then authentication is as important for democratic participation as much as an individual device platform is.

      Device diversity inevitable: Can't be fun to hold a tablet when you arthritis, for example.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hopefully

        "Many of the 'confused old grannies' are able and willing to learn technology"

        Having worked as tech support in a place with more than it's fair share of confused old grannies, I must disagree with you. Most of them simply refuse to learn. After having to show them for the fifth time how to delete an email in Outlook 2000 (amoung many, many other daily frustrations) I was ready to forget the fact that these were sweet little old ladies and reach for my clue by four. Not to mention the one grannie who literally couldn't figure out how to turn the computer on.

        Granted, that's anecdotal, but it's still my experience.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hopefully

          After a brief period of having to field calls from the public about one aspect of the organisation's website I grew to prefer the silver surfers to the younger punter who "knew all about computers". At least they knew they knew nothing and did what you told them to, unlike the narky blerts who all seemed to be in IT for major Fleet Street newpapers who were aching to write the story about the idiotic support that we were providing (which would have been excellent support if they'd shut up, listened and done what we told them to).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First time around

    What was the hype like the first time tablets came around? I know they bombed and they only ran Windows, but how long did it last? Did we have similar predictions that tablets would be taking over real soon now? Or was it just a brief blip before everyone got back to work again?

    Obviously things are different now with lighter, faster, longer lasting tablets running lighter, faster OSs, but it would be interesting to see how closely history is repeating if at all.

    1. sisk

      Re: First time around

      By this time the first time around they were getting difficult to find. I think the reason they bombed the first time around had more to do with the fact that it was tough to find one for under $1500 than anything else. This time around the things are cheap enough to be practical, especially the 7in ones. They're still not going to take over the world (there's just too much that they can't do well), but I wouldn't be suprised to see them become as ubiquitous as smart phones.

  4. Dazed and Confused

    No S*&t

    In a maturing market cheap products will out sell expensive ones.

    Hmmm and this is hard to predict is it?

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Re: No S*&t

      Well we don't see that happening in the smartphone market, in the UK anyway - everyone who wants a SP wants a high-specced one. And SPs are much more mature than tablets.

      As an aside - what is the current thinking on when the "iPad mini" is likely to arrive, if it exists?

      1. dogged

        @ JDX

        We do. We really do.

        Android outsells iPhone because you can get an Android phone for £0 on contract. And some of them are very cheap indeed.

        1. JDX Gold badge

          Re: @ JDX

          I didn't say "you can't get cheap smartphones". You can. You can also get super-cheap tablets. But I rarely see anyone with a crappy smartphone (not a new one anyway), people who want such a device want a decent one.

          1. Dazed and Confused

            Re: @ JDX

            Try googling the the sales of ZTE Blades, lots of reports that they've outsold the iPhone in the UK. Know one will ever know if they are true but they clearly sell them by the bucket load.

            No I don't own one, but I know quite a few people who do, they're about £100 and do just about everything an iPhone does. They only significant thing they miss is the logo.

  5. lurker

    The Amazon What?

    I'm sorry, I live in the UK. It seems that Amazon don't really want my money, or care enough about me to even bother hinting at when they might get around to remembering that there is a world outside the US of A.

    As for the report, fully in agreement with 'Gordon 10', this is the usual mixture random statistics and the bleeding obvious.

  6. tanj666

    when 7 inch is enough

    I have had an original Galaxy Tab for the past year, 7 inches of pure brilliance. I can carry it about without the need for a big bag, it's small enough to escape undue attention.

    This last week I 'upgraded' to the new Galaxy Tab 7.7. Only slightly bigger? Actually its quite a bit different. It's slimmer and slightly lighter (despite a bigger battery) but wider and longer. This one only just fits in my trousers side pocket (the AMOLED screen is amazing btw!).

    I imagine that if fruity-blandness do bring out a 7.8 incher it'll be too big for a pocket and will need a bag, thus negating the point of the smaller size.

    Overall, I can see the 7 inch format being very sucessful as it's small enough to carry, light enough to hold for ages at a time and the screens are useable enough for common-or-garden surfing etc. That this seems to be the preferred format for the lower end of the tablet market is not too surprising really. But sadly I don't think enough of them are being specc'd as well as the Kindle Fire has been, too many have 'old fashioned and clunky' resistive touch screens.

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: when 7 inch is enough

      I asked 'er indoors this morning, and she said 7" is not enough :(

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: when 7 inch is enough

        Shouldn't have had kids then.

  7. blcollier

    Screen Size

    I bought an Advent Vega last year, and it was a fantastic device. But at 10", I just found it too uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and typing on it was awkward. Hence why I sold it and picked up a cheap ThinkPad X61s laptop, which suits me far better than both the Advent Vega and my old 9" netbook put together.

    However I recently picked up an O2 Joggler to use as a media portal for the kitchen; the Joggler is basically the b**tard love-child of a tablet and a photo frame. It isn't really a tablet, as it's mains-powered and is x86 (although that's a plus, in my book), but it does have a 7" capacitive touchscreen.

    7" seems like a much better screen size for what I'd want a tablet to be: small, light, portable with a decent screen size/resolution. I could easily see myself carrying round something the size of my Joggler to use as a tablet, but the Advent Vega (and, by extension, pretty much any 16:9 10" tablet) and the iPad are just far too large.

    1. Wibble

      Re: Screen Size

      Long may we have horses for courses...

      I, on the other hand, really appreciate the larger screen of an iPad as I find it *much* easier to read and type on.

      Long may we have choice.

      One wonders what the market's going to be like once Microsoft pulls their finger out. In a couple of years we should have some real choice and real innovation as there'll be three major players.

  8. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Tablets like cameras

    Smartphones , PMPs- Compact Cameras: Jeans pocket

    Tablets < 8", Kindles - Premium / System compact cameras: Jacket pocket, handbag

    Tablets >8", Netbooks, Notebooks - SLRs, Bridge, CSC Zoom lens: Dedicated bag or rucksack

    Having to use a bag is a definite bar to carrying a larger device out and about.

    The best camera is the one you have with you [when you spot the Loch Ness monster]

    The best Tablet is the one you have with you [when you want directions to a good pub and National Geographic's news desk email address]

  9. robin penny

    People buy the Fire mainly because its from Amazon

    If the future belongs to the fire it is only because it is from Amazon. Of course the price is right too, but other vendors have similar priced and similar sized tablets and they don't sell...

    I believe there is a place for more expensive Android tablets too - look at the phone market. The problem is that nobody is selling a top quality Android tablet with the same 4:3 layout as the iPad, so this market segment is completely untested. This is also the market segment that most suits owners of digital cameras (Photos are 4:3) who are not already in the Apple camp, but nobody seems to be directly targeting this market segment either! Except possibly Archos who have an 8" 4:3 tablet - unfortunately this falls into the cheap category (flimsy) and only has a micro-SD slot rather than a full size one.

  10. JeffyPooh

    Kindle Fire 'Platinum Edition', 16GB, cameras, GPS, Android, $200

    It's called the BlackBerry PlayBook.


  11. Anonymous Coward

    <$400 as "cheap"

    Its quite possible that every tablet sold, including Apple's, will cost less than that in 2016. Consider this. Right now Apple sells the new iPad for $499 (in the US, I know you folks across the pond get screwed on exchange rates, but ABI Research is an American firm, thus I'll consider only US prices) The production costs are estimated to be a bit over $300 for that base model, raising up to a bit under $400 for the top end model with 64GB and 4G.

    There are some things that won't change much between today's new iPad and the iPad of 2016. The screen is going to be the same size (if Apple changes it, it will be to add a smaller version, not a larger one) and there's no point in better resolution. Unless there's a breakthrough in screens that look as good as today's even under direct sunlight the iPad 2016 screen will cost much less than today's. 4G will be mature technology by then, and 5G won't be out yet, so 4G chipsets will be cheap and sip much less power than today's monsters that drain Android handsets batteries in a few hours of talk time and required Apple to add 60% more battery to get slightly lower battery life in the new iPad. So both the 4G chipset and the battery will cost much less in 2016. I'll argue that CPU will cost much less too, because aside from going to a 64 bit ARM, and clocking it a bit better, there won't be any major improvements there - just as with Intel, they've run into a wall with limited improvements in straight line code performance, so they are left adding cores. IMHO anything beyond dual core is pointless in a tablet (let alone a phone) but certainly even the Android fanboys in love with specs would be hard pressed to come up with a reason to go beyond a quad core CPU in a tablet. Maybe they'll use all the extra CPU real estate to make the GPU better so the games can become like those on today's Xbox 360 and PS3, but barring that the CPU costs less in 2016.

    Combine all that, and even with new ideas that I haven't though of, I think its reasonable to believe that the iPad of 2016 costs less than $200 to build, allowing Apple the option of selling it for $399 instead of $499 like today (or maybe just making more on it, if people still by them by the millions each month) Android competitors would probably rarely sell above $299, and many tablets that were spec-wise very similar to iPad 2016 could be sold for $199 by the vendors who don't mind razor thin margins. I'd say $200 or $250 at most will be the dividing line for "cheap" in 2016. As usual, the research firms only look at today and extrapolate into the future, just like the idiots who said MS Phone would take 20% of the market by 2015 which was miraculously almost exactly Nokia's ownership of the phone market at that time. Now that Nokia is plummeting if they did the study today they'd probably predict much less for MS Phone, even though its Nokia that's having the problems and MS Phone's prospects haven't changed all that much for good or for bad in the intervening few months.

  12. JeffyPooh


    So, if I may be so bold as to summarize your claim: In general, high tech goods are likely to cost less in the future. Hmmm...


  13. Derek Currie

    The 'Future' in numbers perhaps, but not in profits

    Let's get real here: Amazon LOSE money with every Kindle Fire sale. THAT is what makes this device cheap in price. The limited hardware built into the Kindle Fire is what makes the device cheap in quality.

    So what businesses are going to want to get into that market? Where is the profit?

    And what customers want to purchase from this market? Where is the user functionality?

    IOW: I continue to just laugh (lolz and lolz) at journalists who blether on about the promise of the mini OtherPad market. Very silly.

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