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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that
tablets are the talk of the town at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas. And the choices available will help solution providers better serve their customers as the technology moves beyond vertical markets like health care and field service into the enterprise and SMB.

A slew of tablet products competing with Apple’s beloved
iPad and the recently-released Samsung Galaxy tablet are making their debut.
Expect products from heavy-hitters like LG, Asus, Motorola, whose tablet is to
be the first running Google’s Android 3.0 “Honeycomb” operating system, Toshiba
and Vizio. Motion Computing is showcasing a rugged tablet for businesses, and
we’ll likely hear more about Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook. Cisco
will demonstrate its new Cius Tablet PC.

Older-school technologies will also get an update at the
show, as well. HP will be at CES showing off its latest line of PCs and notebooks
and Lenovo will show its new line of IdeaPad notebooks.

Several interesting products that may not make a as big splash
in the channel include a crop of 3D HDTVs, video game demos from the likes of
Nintendo, which normally gives the show a pass, and 4G phones and LTE networks.
Automakers Audi and Ford are expected to show off connected cars.

And while the iPad is
sure to be the talk of the town, with everyone pitting themselves against the
tablet that helped establish the market in 2010, Apple will not be making an
appearance at CES.

What does this mean for the channel?

Tablets are going to be on your customers’ minds. Forrester
predicts that this year the tablet market will be 2.5 times what it was in 2011
– and not just for consumers. The numbers will be up for enterprise and SMB
users as well.

"When Apple’s iPad
first debuted, we saw the device as a game-changer but were too
conservative with our forecast. Since then, we’ve fielded additional consumer
surveys and an SMB and enterprise survey, conducted additional supply-side
research, and seen more sales numbers from Apple. We’ve had briefings
from many companies that will release new tablets at CES. All of these inputs
have led us to revise our U.S. consumer tablet forecast," Forrester
analyst Sara Rotman Epps told eWeek

And having a wider array of tablet choices will help
solution providers customize solutions for their customers.

"We admire companies like Apple that offer great
innovation, but they provide very limited choices for the customers," he
said Asus chairman Jonney
Shih at the unveiling of Asus’ new tablets, including the Eee Pad Slider, the
BBC reported. "Different
kinds of customers have different kinds of needs, and the best way to better
serve them is to provide choice."