If you’re an aspiring tablet vendor, you have a better chance of taking on Apple in Europe than you do in the United States … but, perhaps, not that much better.
According to Forrester Research, the iPad has a more than 80 percent market share in the United States. But it has only a 70 percent market share in Europe. And that remaining 30 percent presents window of opportunity for the device’s would-be rivals.
Forrester cites a number of reasons for this, but two stand out above all. First, the research outfit believes Europe will account for 30 percent of worldwide consumer tablet sales in 2011, making it the second-largest market globally. And importantly, that market is largely untapped. Forrester surveyed more than 3,000 adults in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K. about their tablet ownership and interest and found that those interested in buying a tablet in the future far outnumbered those who already own one.
Second, Apple’s retail presence in Europe is far smaller than it is in the States. The company has 238 stores in the US. But it has a quarter of that in Europe. Says Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, “Other than the U.K., which has 30 of Europe’s 52 Apple Stores, Apple Stores are sparse in Europe, compared with the U.S., which has 238 Apple Stores.”
The Apple Store has proven a critical point of sale for the iPad which isn’t as naturally aligned with a carrier distribution network as the iPhone. So Apple’s more limited retail presence in Europe could be viewed as real advantage to the company’s rivals–if they can develop a real challenger to the iPad. But of course that’s no easy task, as Epps notes.
“Manufacturers, retailers, and operators we spoke with all commented on the failure of the first 7-inch tablets that attempted to compete with the iPad,” says Epps. “The newer generation of iPad challengers, such as the 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Acer Iconia Tab, are getting better reception, but they’re still at a disadvantage to Apple in terms of channel strategy. … No tablet competitor has come close to Apple’s market share, and the non-iPad tablet market is extremely fragmented.”