Street Skeptical Sony Can Topple Apple in Tablet PC Wars
Friday, April 29, 2011 12:05 PM

Can tablet computer laggard Sony Corp. overtake Apple Inc. and its iPad, or even claim a strong second place finish in the emerging tablet computing market space?

Wall Street is skeptical – quite skeptical indeed about the prospects for Sony.

Research by Deutsche Bank AG indicates that Sony is the last of the planet's top 10 notebook computer makers to plunge into the tablet market. That may make it "difficult" to challenge Apple, or rival Samsung, maker of the Galaxy Tab, according to a Deutsche Bank research note.

Sony spent too much time customizing its own tablet PCs. Analysts think the consumer electronics giant should have waded into the tablet PC waters last year, and has last momentum to its faster-to-market rivals.

But one can't blame Sony for trying. Market research firm Strategy Analytics predicts that tablet PC market will reach $49 billion by 2015.

Sony expects the global tablet-computer market to soar even higher, reaching annual sales of between 50 million and 60 million units in 2011, and something like 70 million to 80 million units next year.

Sony's CEO for computer products, Kunimasa Suzuki, told reporters, in Japan, the race is definitely on against Apple. "We aim to attract consumers out there, who haven't purchased one. Demand for tablets is still small," he told journalists.

Sony's S1 model features a 9.4-inch liquid-crystal display, and front and rear cameras. The S2 laptop-shaped model has dual 5.5-inch screens and feature cameras, the company reported. Apple's iPad, by contrast, has a 9.7-inch screen.

Market whispers in Tokyo indicate that Sony is going to have to perform big time to overtake Apple. Researchers at MF Global FXA Securities said Sony's technological offerings are far short of being an iPad slayer for consumers.

The company is claiming, however, that its goal is to become the largest manufacturer of tablets that run on Android software by 2012. The company will introduce a tablet PC that uses Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)'s Windows software by the end of this year.

The most recent version of the iPad went on sale last month, outfitted with cameras and a potent powerful processor, starting at $499. Apple sold total of 14.8 million iPads through December, 2010, generating $9.6 billion in sales since its introduction in April last year, and claiming the number one spot in the tablet PC industry. Rival Samsung, maker of the Galaxy Tab, comes in second behind Apple.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, based in Washington D.C., PC tablet sales grew to more than 10.3 million units last year from 90,000 in 2009. Market research firm IHS ISuppli said that Apple will likely maintain its power position in the tablet market until at least 2012. Shipments of other media tablets, combined, will likely reach 111 million units in 2013, overtaking the estimated 81 million iPad sales.



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