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Worldwide Tablet PC Shipments Exceed 70,000 Units
Mar 18, 2003
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During the tablet PC's launch quarter (Q4 02), worldwide shipments reached more than 72,000 units, according to IDC's Worldwide PC Tracker.

The U.S. led all reporting regions in tablet PC shipments, comprising just about half of the total volume. "Driven by strong demand for portable PCs, the initial U.S. lead in tablet PC shipments is not surprising. However, Western Europe, Japan, and Asia/Pacific continue to represent markets with great potential. In Asia, the form factor's ability to deal with Asian language input more easily than traditional keyboard-equipped notebooks remains a powerful driver," said Alan Promisel, research analyst at IDC.

During the fourth quarter, vertical markets provided OEMs with the bulk of tablet PC demand. These markets have historically been receptive to tablet-like devices, as the form factor has proven ideal for handling forms-driven applications. Penetration into the corporate segment, which IDC sees as critical for widespread tablet adoption, is still at least 6-12 months away, however, as IT departments continue to put tablets through rigorous testing processes prior to deployment.

Fujitsu, the incumbent tablet PC provider with more than 10 years of experience, was surpassed on a worldwide basis by Acer and Hewlett-Packard (HP). The two companies ended the quarter in a statistical tie for the number 1 position, with each shipping more than 17,000 units worldwide. HP’s success was attributable to its aggressive marketing of the tablet, its positioning as a total solutions provider in the enterprise, and its broad distribution network. Acer was able to leverage its relationship with Microsoft to bring one of the first Windows XP Tablet PC Edition-enabled devices to market. Fujitsu, which was not far behind, was strong in its traditional vertical markets, such as healthcare and law enforcement.

With only 6 weeks of potential shipments to record (due to the tablet PC’s official launch not occurring until mid-November), and the form factor's relative infancy in the face of other competing, more established devices, IDC believes that initial shipment volume represents a good start at securing a role in the crowded mobile device arena.

With initial volume being as strong as it is, IDC expects shipments in 2003 to grow considerably as well, driven by increased marketing efforts from OEMs and Microsoft, a steady refining of product lines, and the development of new usage models that are attractive to a greater cross section of potential users.

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