VARs Say Apple Is Not The Tablet Gauge

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An IDC report released early Monday showed a slump in the worldwide tablet market for the second quarter. Apple, the world leader in tablet sales, had the furthest to fall and took the biggest hit, selling nearly 5 million fewer tablets than the previous quarter.

Historically, the launch of a new iPad benefits Apple as well as its competitors by bolstering consumer interest in tablets, IDC said. However, VARs say Apple's lack of a new product hurts no one except Apple and its faithful following.

Carolina Melanesi, vice president of consumer devices at Gartner, said numbers coming from vendors in the second quarter are soft, partially because of the lack of devices launched. Additionally, Melanesi said many consumers are on the fence between buying a tablet or another mobile device like an ultrabook or convertible.

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"I don't know that Apple is the gauge to tell whether or not the market is healthy," said Bob Nitrio, President of Orangevale, Calif.-based solution provider, Ranvest Associates. Nitrio added, until a major change happens in software, consumers seem to be happy with the hardware they already own, an indicator of a saturated market.

"I think until a new version of Android comes out on a tablet, people are not going to see a reason to upgrade hardware if the software is the same," Nitrio said.

Melanesi said there has been a lot of attention around Apple's market share drop but noted the rise in popularity of Android devices.

"If you used to own the market and someone else comes in, your market share can only go one direction, even if that other company only sells one device," Melanesi said.

Larry Gold, president of Mendon, Vt.-based solution provider, Computer EZ, said Apple may be marketing masters, but it is very dependent on new product releases.

"Half of my customers tell me they buy iPads because they think that is what everyone else has. It seems a little cult-like to me," Gold said. "They have created a loyal following who are anxiously awaiting the next new product. Not releasing a new iPad certainly has an impact on their sales; I don't think it means anything on the entire market."

Apple is expected to release a new iPad closer to the holiday season to gain sales momentum again. Melanesi said she expects consumers are waiting for the holiday season to make their decision on which devices to buy. "I definitely do not read the report to say, 'the tablet market is over,'" Melanesi said.


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