CES: Tablet Onslaught Good for the Channel

By Jennifer Lawinski

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."

This article was originally published on 2011-01-05