LONDON, October 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Apple's iPad event last week, which announced significantly upgraded versions of its iPad range - including a faster, thinner iPad Air and a new iPad mini - points to a renewed consumer and corporate focus that combines raw power with a refined user experience, according to analyst firm Futuresource Consulting.
"We continue to see rapid growth in the worldwide tablet market," says Oliver Rowntree, Research Analyst, Futuresource Consulting. "Futuresource research shows 96 million tablets were shipped in the first half of this year and around 35% of this can be attributed to Apple products. Total retail value for the first half of this year is coming in at around $31 billion, with Apple maintaining profitability in an increasingly competitive market."
The new iPad Air features a Retina display, a powerful 64-bit A7 processor and is 43% smaller, 20% thinner and 30% lighter than the previous version. It has 8x faster CPU performance and 72x faster graphics performance.
"The latest round of Living With Digital - our regular consumer research study - shows that iPad owners are using their devices for more tasks and for longer periods than the average tablet user," says Sarah Carroll, Director of Global Business Development at Futuresource Consulting. "Carried out in the USA, UK, Germany and France, our research shows that iPad owners' usage of their devices is higher than non-iPad tablet owners across all activities. For example, iPad owners are more than 50% more likely than non-iPad tablet owners to watch movies and TV, shop online and to use their device for productivity and creative applications. They are also more than twice as likely to use their iPad to make internet calls, gamble online and connect their device to a TV set.
"As usage continues to transition from simple gaming, content viewing and surfing, and into the realms of graphics-intensive 3D games, creativity and productivity applications, the smooth performance that can be delivered will become apparent."
Looking to the retail sector, feedback from Futuresource's latest round of merchant research suggests that a fingerprint sensor would have been a desirable consumer addition. Another comment received from a number of retailers pre-announcement was that the iPad mini really needed a Retina display to keep ahead of the competition, a feature which Apple has integrated.
The resolution of the old mini was 1024 x 768, whereas the new mini resolution - 2048 x 1920 - is the same as the iPad Air: 326ppi. When comparing this with Android devices - Nexus 7: 1200 x 1920 (323ppi); Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0: 1024 x 600 (169ppi); and Kindle Fire: 1280 x 800 (216ppi) - the iPad performs favourably.
"Combine the major performance improvements with iOS7 enhancements and we can also glimpse Apple's intention to maintain and increase its lead in corporate and education markets," says Carroll. iOS7 includes improved app licensing and mobile device management options (MDM), allowing institutions to assign apps to students, teachers or a workforce while keeping ownership of the app license. Users can also enrol using their own Apple IDs without the need to provide it to their institution or workplace, making it easier for people to use their own devices to access content.
"Additionally, new MDM controls allow devices to be wirelessly enrolled into the MDM system during initial set-up as well as being able to wirelessly configure other options such as managed apps, accessibility options and AirPrint printers. Apple TV has also been given the ability to be enrolled into an institution's MDM system, allowing screen sharing during lessons or meetings. Lastly AirDrop, which is a more consumer oriented addition, will allow corporates and educational institutions to easily transfer files between devices. All this points the way to an increased drive into markets beyond the consumer."
With Q4 now well underway, the sales opportunities for the holiday season are highly favourable. The $30 price drop applied to the old iPad mini - pushing it below the $300 mark - will provide added traction, while still positioning the device as a premium product and not eroding Apple's core brand values.
Futuresource Consulting is a specialist research and knowledge-based consulting company, providing organisations with insight into consumer electronics, digital imaging, entertainment media, broadcast, storage media, education technology and IT. With a heritage stretching back to the 1980s, the company delivers in-depth analysis and forecasts on a global scale, advising on strategic positioning, market trends, competitive forces and technological developments. http://www.futuresource-consulting.com.
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