Which Has Financial Advantage in Tablet PC Market, IBM or Microsoft?

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According to financial services firm Deloitte, businesses will buy more than 10 million tablets this year. It also predicts that a surge in business adoption will push overall tablet sales to more than 50 million worldwide, thereby challenging the perception that the devices are media-consumption toys unsuitable for legal professionals.
Apad Tablet

We're barely into 2011, yet one thing is already clear: tablet PCs are this year's hottest mobile products and arguably the hottest technology products overall. And, see from the current situation, there seems a quick financial comparison with IBM and Microsoft, for
Acer pulls back from mini-market as Apple doubles number of iPads - and so tablets - in the market during the quarter.

Acer, the world's second-largest PC maker in 2010,is dumping those who reckoned that notebooks were going to be a feature of computing life for ever and ever: bad news. It instead plans to start selling "two or three" tablet computers in the first half of this year, and in line with market demands, with its tablet launches will begin a gradual replacement of Acer's small laptop-style notebook computers.

Acer tried before with tablets: remember its 12-inch product early last year? No, hardly anyone else does either - it sold around 250 per month and was quietly killed in July.

It will make fewer notebooks, because it sees tablets gaining in popularity. Interestingly, the Acer tablets, running Android, will not be based on ARM chips - as pretty much every other extant Andrdoid tablet is - but instead use Intel Sandy Bridge four-core CPUs. The biggest will have a 10-inch screen.

But now Apple has validated the market, selling 7.33m iPads in the past quarter alone - which means that in 2010 it sold a total of 14.8m of the devices. (Read about its record financial quarter.) Many of the most recent ones sold seem to have been 3G versions, judging by details given out in the analyst call with Apple's earnings on Tuesday night which said that the average iPad selling price was $600.

Microsoft will report its latest quarterly earnings on 27 January (8m Kinects sold! Make a date!). For each of the last three quarters its revenues have been smaller than Apple's (ranging from $14.5bn to $16.2bn) but its profits have been bigger ($5.1bn to $7.1bn). Take a bow, Windows and Office.

For comparison: Apple's quarterly revenues were $26.74bn (a record; previous quarter $20.34bn), profits $6bn (a record; previous quarter $4.3bn).

It might be something for Acer - and all the other computer manufacturers - to think about though.

Notebooks might be next year's "last year's thing" but, if they are priced low enough (and it looks like they might be if manufacturers have warehouses to clear) there could be some bargains to be had with wifi enabled devices that will allow users to surf the web, read and send email, and carry out tasks that aren't too CPU intensive ... just like a tablet PC.

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