Tablet PCs won't make a big impact next year because customers will be put off by a lack of applications, clumsy hardware designs and high cost, according to Gartner Dataquest.
The analyst predicted that Tablet PC sales will total 425,000 units in 2003, representing just 1.2 per cent of worldwide notebook shipments.
But the Tablet concept is likely to take hold, with Dataquest predicting that by 2007 at least 35 per cent of all notebooks sold will have screen digitisers with a convertible or separable keyboard design.
Most early buyers will be businesses, buying up to 10 units to test the hardware. Dataquest added that consumers and executives looking for a new gadget will also drive early shipments.
The analyst expects a six- to nine-month evaluation period before any volume purchases are made. More than 20 PC hardware vendors will be releasing Tablet PCs within the next year.
Dataquest said that initial interest could cause an early spike in purchasing, but that only very brave companies will implement Tablet PCs by the end of 2003.
Gartner vice president Ken Dulaney suggested that Tablet PCs will fit with applications that currently use pen-based tablets.
"However, a lack of application support, clumsy hardware designs and a price premium will be barriers for most users," he said.
Tony Kingston, marketing manager at Deverill, believes that Tablet PCs will become a part of the reseller's overall portfolio and that, after six months of evaluation, there will be a "significant take off".
"I've seen a couple of Tablet PCs and I can see great value in them for workers that don't spend a lot of time at their desks," he said.
"There's a significant opportunity in places where there is a large mobile workforce. Give it six months and people will start switching on to it."
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