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Report: tablets becoming ‘next big thing’ in the computer market

After a lackluster initial reception in the 2000s, tablet computers are finally becoming the next big thing in personal computing. Apple’s iPad has led the charge so far, but according to the latest Sector Focus commentary by Turner Investments (, tablet computers generally may capture 20% of the U.S. computer market by 2013, up from less than 1% in 2009.

Turner, an investment firm based in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, publishes Sector Focus commentaries monthly as part of the continuing efforts of its five analyst teams to monitor the market sectors for its growth-stock portfolios.

Entitled “Tablet Computers: an Idea Whose Time has Come at Last,” the piece was written by Turner’s technology-sector analysts: Tara Hedlund, portfolio manager/security analyst; Dan Hirsch, security analyst; Mike Lozano, security analyst; Chris McHugh, vice chairman and senior portfolio manager; and Bob Turner, chairman and chief investment officer. Initial iPad sales have been extraordinary, the analysts report, calling the 3.3 million iPads Apple sold in the second quarter of 2010 “one of the most successful launches of a consumer-electronics device ever.”

Turner believes tablets have staying power because they appeal to both consumers and business. Consumers love Apple gadgets. The business world, on the other hand, has been slow to embrace Apple computers because most business software is created for use on personal computers running Microsoft’s Windows operating system.

However, the iPad, with more than 500 business applications already available, may finally change that. In addition to the apps already offered, the iPad allows companies to develop and distribute their own internal apps, has security and encryption capabilities, and is less expensive than a laptop computer.

Demand for the iPad has been so strong that Apple and its suppliers are having trouble keeping up with production, leading the Turner analysts to conclude that “the greatest limitation on iPad sales may be supply, not demand.” The authors think this delay in supply may create an opportunity for competitors.

Some companies they believe may introduce a tablet computer in the next two years include Acer Group, Cisco Systems, Dell, Lenovo Group, Motorola, NEC, Research in Motion, Samsung Electronics, and Toshiba.

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