“Some of the tablet players are bringing in technology that Apple oversaw”

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With the growing popularity of tablets world over, computer maker Acer too is planning to roll out its tablets in India in the next few months. The company expects tablets to contribute significantly as it targets a 25 per cent growth in its revenues in the calendar year 2011.

S. Rajendran, chief marketing officer of Acer India, speaks to Uma Bansal, executive editor at EFY, about why tablets can’t be dismissed as just another fad and what consumers should expect


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S. Rajendran

APRIL 2011: It has not been much time since netbooks debuted on the market, but they are already under cannibalisation threat from tablets. Do you agree?
A tablet is the hottest device off-the-shelf right now and expected to create a sizeable market but the netbook will still find its users.

Netbooks today contribute about 12 per cent of the overall notebook market. These have their usage in both the consumer segment as well as educational institutions and corporates. They offer portability and long battery life at very affordable price points.

Of course, tablets are ultra-mobile PCs that combine great functions with ease of use, but their mass adoption in India will take some time at current price points.

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Both tablet PCs and netbooks will co-exist in the marketplace as these have different target audience and functionality. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and, in fact, serve slightly different purposes.

Tablet PCs are developed to meet the demands of those consumers who are on a constant move. The device enables the users to frequently check mails, watch HD movies, play games and also use it as a book reader. Tablet PCs are built to consume more content and subsequently use them for light content creation. Netbooks, on the other hand, are built for both creating and consuming content.

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“Android tablets running off dual-core processors have more than enough power to handle true multitasking. Also, Android tablets come with two cameras for video chatting and video conferencing”

What works in favour of tablets?
Tablet PCs act as true personal computers with a compact design that enables users to experience complete entertainment. Light weight and slim design make them very easy to carry around. Their simplified, intuitive touchscreen interface makes it easy to manoeuvre the programs and applications.

These devices add value to industry professionals, gaming enthusiasts and many others by bridging the gap between heavy laptops and portable notebooks. The users also have the option to choose between two OS—Android and Windows—based on their requirement. Tablet PCs also come with better battery life.

Tablet PCs’ form factor along with personalised functionalities are well accepted among users, and we will see a larger section of the diaspora using them to achieve better collaborative efficiencies.

“The tablet market will explode and grow rapidly over the next five years. In 2011 itself, we expect the market to touch about 65 million units worldwide”

What are the major trends in tablet PCs?
Increase in the processing power (with dual-core processors), all-new Android Honeycomb OS which is optimised for tablet experience, choice of Windows-based tablets, various form factors such as 12.2 cm, 17.8 cm and 25.4 cm with docking station, launch of 3G video calling with tablet devices using dual cameras, and last but not the least, thousands of applications being developed to give customers a great usage experience.

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We are at a stage where technology is being redefined every two years. Technologies surrounding tablets will continue to see rapid changes.

Currently, the market has Apple iPad on one side and the rest of the lot on the other. But these market dynamics will see volatile changes in the near future. We at Acer have advanced our tablet PCs with our latest technology that Apple has overseen.

What tips would you give to those looking to buy a tablet PC?
For those looking for more mobility, compact form factor and more content consumption (like checking mails, Web browsing, casual gaming and e-book reading), a tablet is a suitable product.

There are various parameters to be considered while buying a tablet. Like I mentioned earlier, tablet PCs are more for content consumption than content creation. Importance of functions and features over a specific operating system is another consideration. The user’s priority may vary between playing games, watching movies, HD video consumption and others. Some of the other considerations will be connectivity/expandability options and budget.

How would you compare Android tablets with iPad? Will they be able to uproot iPad from the No. 1 level in sales?
The ecosystem is still evolving and the market space growing rapidly with thousands of applications being developed regularly. As per the latest reports, Android has already taken over Apple iOS to become the largest selling smartphone OS.

There has been a flood of Android tablets in the market lately. Android tablets running off dual-core processors have more than enough power to handle true multitasking. Also, Android tablets come with two cameras with flash—one facing outward and the other inward—for video chatting and video conferencing.

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Acer’s tablets are packed with full HD playback, HDMI interface, SD card slots, etc, which will be an added advantage for users using external display connectivity.

Recently, you have come up with both Windows and Android tablets internationally. What would you recommend: A Windows or an Android tablet?
Each operating system has its own advantages and disadvantages. We believe that Windows-based tablets will also find use in commercial space verticals like education and healthcare, as these will easily integrate with the current office network to run regular applications.

Several applications are being developed on Android platform to give consumers a great usage experience.

What are the major issues before tablets?
Customers who are used to the regular keyboard size for content creation will find adapting to tablets a little difficult. Also, the computing power of tablets is still lower than regular notebooks’—primarily because these are ultra-portable and mobile devices—so tasks requiring a higher computing speed will take longer on tablets.

Some of these challenges will be areas of opportunity for us to develop and we see these being overcome in the next few months.

Looking forward, how do you see the future?
We will witness faster processors, more improved wireless technologies, fingerprint recognition, array microphones and longer battery lives. The tablet market will explode and grow rapidly over the next five years. In 2011 itself, we expect the market to touch about 65 million units worldwide. This exponential growth will see worldwide shipments cross 200 million units for tablets alone by 2014.


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