Tablets have been making the rounds for a while now, but it wasn’t until a few years back that this segment saw a sudden, huge surge in sales and popularity and we all know who to thank for this. Today, tablets have become the new smartphone; everyone wants one, either for productive purposes or for simply showing off. This new trend is only going to get bigger, in the current year. We saw a good wave of tablets, last year and now the world awaits the new comers at MWC. We’ve seen a lot of tablets come and go and while it’s easy for anyone to manufacture a tablet, making it stand out from the crowd, offering customers a unique selling point remains to be the trickiest part and this is what separates the men from the boys.

Do keep in mind that the information gathered in our Market Watch features are based on the details provided to us by retailers and shop owners in various parts of Mumbai city. The prices could vary, depending on your geographic location, sales, special offers and retailers in your location.

In our Feb 2012 edition, we saw many contenders from early 2011 still going strong in the market. Motorola’s Xoom is still going strong and between the different variants of the tablet, the 16GB Wi-Fi plus 3G version seems to be the most popular one. However, the biggest seller among tablets continues to be Apple’s iPad 2 and we can’t really say that we’re surprised. What is surprising, though is that despite the availability of some good Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 750 and 730, there doesn’t seem to be much demand for Android tablets, in general in the market. We found out from our sources that when customers walk into shops to pick up a tablet, the first thing they inquire about is the iPad. In fact, it’s mostly Apple products that get all the attention of potential buyers and only the tech savvy buyers usually check out various Android offerings. But for the masses (and that involves a hug chunk of buyers), the Apple iPad seems to be the be-all and end-all. The first iPad has stopped selling in the market and retailers aren’t stocking them, anymore. As far as complaints go, there haven’t been any major reports from any brands, as far as we heard.

The tablet with the poorest sales happens to be the HTC Flyer and the big price cut didn’t prove very effective. Perhaps the reason for this could be the bad launch price, which left a negative mark on people’s minds every time they thought of this tablet. Price cuts, however, have had just the opposite effect – when BlackBerry decided to slash the prices of the PlayBook by half, during the new year, massive movements of PlayBooks from shelves was seen and within hours of announcing the sale, all tablets were sold out. This was just like the sales of HP’s TouchPad, with the only difference being that we could take advantage of this, here in India. After the sale ended and the price shot up again, the sales immediately diminished.

Looking at the high-end segment, Lenovo’s trio of tablets, the A1, K1 and the ThinkPad seem to be doing decently well in the market. Samsung also seems to be pimping their tablets, as the Tab 750, 730 and 620 are easily available in the market and are doing ok in terms of sales. Even Sony’s latest Tablet S and P seem to have piqued the interest of many buyers, thanks to the massive hoardings on city roads. Some of the lower-end tablets, like Fly Vision, Spice Mi-720, Zinglife E-Pad and Creative’s ZiiO 7 didn’t really stand a chance in the long run, while tablets from Tier 1 brands, like Acer’s ICONIA Tab A500 seem to have vanished off the shelves.

New comers, like Swingtel’s Hello Tab, Digital Wave’s TabPlus Rio and the Milagrow MCT02 have penetrated the budget and mainstream segment of the tablet market, but whether they’ll last or not, remains to be seen. For the list of the widely available tablets in the market right now, check out our drop box below.

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