HSC tips tablets for 2011, but warning of copycats

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Tablets will be a major part of HSC’s device distribution business in 2011, it said last week, as new vendors bring new devices to market, but analyst warns of cheap copycats

HSC business manager Bob Sweetlove said at the distributor’s annual dealer conference this month HSC will put focus on tablets in 2011.

“You can’t move for talk about tablets right now. The Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy tablets will be joined by many more in 2011. It will make the mobile internet experience richer. The operating systems on these devices are positioned well for mobile channels to capitalise on the experience and opportunity,” said Sweetlove.

HSC has sold 160 iPad and Galaxy tablets in the past two months.

HSC sales manager Carlos Pestana said: “Laptops have been strong and they have almost created their own platform now. We have sold nearly 4,500 this year but that market could be cannibalised by the new tablet market. That product category will expand massively in 2011.”

HSC hardware manager Ian Gale suggested new tablets from LG and Sharp could make the tablet market seem crowded very suddenly.

CCS Insight director Ben Wood (pictured) cast doubt over claims by the company’s leaders the tablet market would soar. “Nobody knows what is going to happen with tablets because it is a new category. With mobile phones it is easy – there are this many people, this many phone subscriptions, churn is this and the replacement rate is that. You can get a view of the sales potential in any given period. We don’t have any of this with tablets. But we do have a couple of dynamics in the industry, which are a bit worrying.”

Wood pointed to cheap imitation devices now hitting shelves just as ‘copycat’ handsets have in the past. He said:  “There is some funny stuff going on. Toys R Us is selling tablets for £89. My word of caution is to be very careful with the tablet market in ensuring you get the right product. If someone comes into your business with a ‘nice cheap tablet’, run a mile. Some are bloody awful.”

But Wood said relationships with good distributors and manufacturers should avoid such dangers. “I think this is where the partnerships and supply channels you have will guide you. It is a risk we face in the market – these [cheap imitation devices]. There is though an opportunity but be careful.”

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