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Prediction: the top selling tablets of 2011

Tablets you can buy in the shops

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Alex Fergusson Architects

Market Trends in Amazon's Tablet Bestseller List

Latest version here


Amazon UK publishes a list of its bestselling slates and while it can change a little over a period of hours, aggregating the lists over time allows us to see trends that have persisted over the weeks since the market for tablets became large enough to reveal useful information.

Note that this list is as of 22nd September so is subject to change; you can check out the latest best sellers here. This "live" list can be a little confusing with repeated entries for the same item and accessories mixed in with the main list. If you ever feel like checking out the core stats of anything on this list, click its name and you'll be directed to the relevant comparison table.


10) Blackberry Playbook (down from number 6)

If you're an existing BlackBerry user who is used to the interface, this could be for you. However, requiring a link to a BlackBerry phone to perform basic functions seems to be restricting demand this slate, with potential consumers fearing they are being further pushed into a 'walled garden', even more so than Apple iOS users.

The makers (RIM) are losing market share to such an extent that worries over their future could also be damaging sales.





9 (New Entry) Archos 70

This is perhaps the best of the budget slates. It comes with a capacitive screen and there is also a very popular option that is supplied with a 250Gb hard disk of the old-fashioned spinning variety. This is a genuinely special feature, with most slates - whatever the price - offering expansion only up to 32 or sometimes 64Gb.

Archos, themselves, are beginning to gain real market traction with quite a range of Android slates and MP3 players. Their market share in Europe has moved ahead of many better known brands reach 2.5% in 2011 Q2. The company is French, and, whilst their customer support is pretty awful, it does exist - which is more than could be said for a number of the other cheaper "brands".

New Archos tablets are coming shortly with faster processors running Android Honeycomb - and with "G9" added to their names. There's going to be quite a bit of potential for confusion here!


8 (New Entry) Disgo 6000

This indifferent budget offering probably gets a leg up from the fact that the gadget itself can be seen in a number of shops. It really does show the three compromises made in cheaper offerings, with an unresponsive touch screen of the resistive type and poor screen contrast together with a boxy plastic design.


7 (New Entry) Tabtech A816

Another essentially unbranded model snaps at the heals of the big boys. This one has access to the Android market and runs the slightly newer Gingerbread version of Android (2.3) on a slightly faster processor than budget slates usually have. But it does make some of the normal compromises, having a resolution of only 800x600 and using a resistive touch screen which requires a much more positive touch than the capacitive screens used by most full-priced models. GPS is also missing.


6) Motorola Xoom 10.1 (Up from number 10)

Motorola partnered with Google to release the Xoom in February this year. It was the first to run Android Honeycomb. However, a number of problems (such as web pages not rendering properly and a non-functional SD card slot) threatened to prevent sales ever taking off.

Many issues have since been fixed by the release of Android Honeycomb 3.1 and more recently 3.2. A number of price reductions have helped move the Xoom up Amazon's bestseller list since last time and people's memories of the teething problems have faded.




5) Asus Eee Pad Transformer TF101 (down from 2)

The Eee Pad Transformer ticks all the boxes as far as specs are concerned, and extras such as a built-in battery in the optional keyboard dock earn the Transformer a reputation of being best suited for the business traveller.

When the Transformer first came out, it was considered competitively priced, but with hardly any reductions since then it's no wonder it has dropped down the bestseller list.




4) A1CS X220 (unchanged)

On a budget again, the A1CS X220 is missing none of the standard slate equipment, including the capacitive screen which is not usually found on the cheaper models.

However, the glowing reviews on Amazon may need to be taken with a pinch of salt - one reviewer has claimed foul play, implying a bit of self-reviewing may be going on. A number of reviews exist with links to the actual product INSIDE the review (overkill surely?), and upon closer inspection these reviewers have only reviewed -you guessed it -one item. However, I do suspect this may be going on with a number of budget-tablets, so it would be unfair to focus on this one.

The X220 continues to sell well regardless and  stays at number 4 on our list.


3) Apple iPad 2 (unchanged)

Its no surprise that the iPad 2 is at the top end of this list. The iPad will likely sell millions more this year than the rest this list put together, but as the majority of their sales come from their official website and Apple stores, it's also no shock that it doesn't take the Amazon top spot. 

With its enormous market  dominance, the  iPad will be the standard of comparison for years to come, but most commentators expect that share to drop significantly over the coming months and years. In fact there have been well-sourced rumours only this week that Apple have just cut their iPad orders from their own suppliers by 25%.



Still, anyone buying  any other tablet will be asked why they haven't chosen an iPad - and here are some valid answers:

  • My alternative was cheaper.
  • It has an extra feature - like the Transformer's dock, the HTC Flyer's stylus, or the Archos 70's extra disk capacity.
  • Your looking at Android out of interest or because it is - or may become - to use an open-source platform.


2 Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (New Entry)

Top new entrant in our top 10 is the controversial Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. Like the real market leader - the i Pad 2, this Tab has a fabulous display and a slim light and elegant design. To achieve this, Samsung has made the same compromises that Apple did - for instance  sacrificing the quality of the rear-facing camera to keep the device's thickness down. This has made the Galaxy 10.1 similar enough to the iPad that Apple have seen fit to attack Samsung with a raft  of lawsuits saying that Samsung have made a "slavish  copy".

In fact, hardware-wise, the Galaxy is perhaps a little better than an iPad, although, in copying Apple's propriety connector, Samsung has clearly made a real error. This is the device's biggest Achilles heal as there have not been enough Galaxies sold to make accessories for the connector easy to find.

But the real choice between the big two tablets is down to  choosing between the platforms they support. iOS on the iPad is a little smoother and has many more apps available at this stage, while Android Honeycomb on the Galaxy is open-source and is tipped by many to be the ultimate winner of the platform wars.


Drumroll please....

1) Non-brand M009S/M010S - what?!

When counted together, this dual offering from unknowns Tabtech/NATPC occupies the top spot - why?

Well at a price of just £10 more than a black leather 'SmartCase' for iPad 2 - yes, I'm serious - this definitely deserves a closer look.

Then again, there's also the rather cunning wording of the "name" of the product:

NATPC M009S 7 inch 2GB Google Android Tablet PC - Cheapest 2.2 Android Tablet works with Flash 10.1 - WiFi , Touchscreen, Epad, Apad, Android Market, Youtube, Kindle and Facebook App

Quite a name, I think you'll agree. It makes "Motorola Xoom" look a bit, well, short. But it also includes several handy searchable words like "Kindle" and "Facebook".

But to the slate itself. First off, it only has a resistive touchscreen. This means no multitouch, which will take a bit of getting used to if you've played around with a friends' iPad in the past.

The 800x480 resolution is also on the (very) low side, so if crystal clear display is what you're after then look elsewhere.

It is shipped with Android 2.2 and you'll have full access to the Amazon marketplace for all your favourite apps - although without Android 3.0 most will still be optimised for smaller smartphones.

At least they're not trying to con you, as the official manufacturers description clearly states: 'We won't lie and say to you that this will be the best that you have ever used'. Fair enough, I say!

If the iPads and Eee Pads of this world don't quite take your fancy, perhaps due to their high prices and the subsequent fear of dropping it/losing it/getting it stolen, this budget offering could be exactly what you're looking for.

Update (19/08/11): Check out our article on whether budget tablets are worth the saving.


In the top ten, three non-branded models have risen up the rankings to replace branded (and more expensive) models from Asus, RIM and Acer. The discounted Xoom also moved ahead emphasising the importance of price in people's decision-making. Since these unbranded offerings tend to have somewhat derivative design and unchallenging hardware specifications, the only really new gadget in the list is Samsung's Galaxy 10.1 entering at number 2 and in the process helping to push its predecessor, the first generation Galaxy Tab down ten places to number 15.

So in general, it's out with the brands and down with the price! In fact the average price of the top ten is now £283, down significantly from last time's £366. A major contribution to this change is the fall from the list for the very pricey Asus Eee Windows 12.1" Slate.

But we should not be ignoring the two elephants in the room:

  • Amazon's very own Android Kindle likely to be announced tomorrow (28 Sept., 2011). We are expecting:
    • That it will be called the Kindle Fire.
    • That it will work a lot like the Barnes and Noble Nook Color - with Android heavily disguised by a Kindle eReader-like skin and with access to the Amazon Appstore.
    • That it will look a lot like the Blackberry Playbook.
    • That the UK release date will not be much before Christmas. A very important driver for Amazon's Kindle launch in their home market must surely be to fend off competition from the Nook Color, and that's not officially available in the UK. The new Kindle will also be expected to drive plenty of business to Amazon's own Appstore - and that's not officially available in the UK either. So there may not be quite the rush to market here that we're seeing in the US.
  • Promised - just around the corner - is the new version of Android (Ice Cream Sandwich "ICS"). The plan is that ICS will unify the ecosystem that's used by the very successful Android smartphones and the ecosystem used by the much less successful Android Honeycomb tablets. If ICS does achieve this - and is well received, sales of the full-spec Android slates could get a considerable boost.


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