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Tablet device sales in Japan reached 1.42 million units in 2011, three times the amount sold the year before. The growth in popularity for tablets in Japan is evidence of the increasing interest in tablets in both business and consumer markets. Some industry observers are forecasting that tablet devices will replace notebook computers in Japan as soon as 2015.
According to IDC Japan, tablet device shipments in Japan totalled 500,000 units in 2010 but according to the analyst firm were forecast to reach 1.42 million units in 2011. The Japanese mobile device market is led by smartphone devices but tablet devices are attracting ever increasing industry attention. The market share for tablet devices is still relatively small within the Japan mobile device market; however, if a greater variety of attractive tablet applications and models become available, this would provide an impetus for the growth of the overall tablet device market in Japan.
About 80 percent of current Japanese tablet users are consumers, according to a November 2010 survey conducted by the Mobile Computing Promotion Council in Japan. The rise of the mobile device market, including tablet devices, is also driving growth in Japan's e-book market. Impress R&D, a local research company, estimates that the e-book market in Japan grew 13.2 percent to 65 billion yen ($813 million USD) in 2010 and is expected to grow after 2013 as more content becomes available and standardization of distribution platforms progresses. This market is projected to expand further to 200 billion yen ($2.5 billion USD) in fiscal 2015.
Online sites offering e-book downloads are springing up to service the growing number of people who own smartphone and tablet devices. Several leading traditional Japanese publishing companies are also digitizing all their new book title releases. In fiscal 2010, nearly 90 percent of Japan's e-book market consisted of comics and other content delivered to standard cell phones, while content for smartphone and tablet devices accounted for less than 4 percent of the market. By fiscal 2015, however, the content for smartphone and tablet devices is expected to comprise 80 percent of the market. Major traditional publishers are losing money from existing business models. A total of 189 magazines were discontinued by major publishers in Japan during 2009, the second worst year in history for this sector. Factors behind this decline included the recent rise of companies like Amazon (which started in Japan in 2000) and Rakuten whose home delivery of publications ordered online poses a threat to traditional book stores. Traditional publishers are therefore now trying to exploit new revenue sources in digital publishing.
Regarding platforms for tablet devices, Microsoft, RIM, HP and others are struggling for supremacy in the smartphone and tablet device markets, but as with smartphones, Apple and Google are currently leading the market for tablet platforms. As the number of tablet business users increases, however, the demand for the Windows platform is expected to increase. Japan's mobile phone household penetration rate totaled over 90 percent in 2008 according to the Japanese Government.
Tablets have diverse connectivity options such as through Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G; this makes them more attractive than laptops. Bluetooth allows a user to connect compatible wireless accessories to a tablet and to transfer files between the tablet and other devices. Also, for fast internet access, tablets can be connected to wireless networks through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Moreover, tablets have a 3G SIM card slot through which they can access a mobile network as well. These diverse connectivity options are increasing the demand for tablets in the market.
In enterprises, tablets are being preferred to PCs because they can help them control and manage support costs better. Tablets are more reliable than notebook computers because they have fewer moving parts and offer more benefits as a mobile computing device than notebook PCs.
Analysts forecast the Global Tablet Computers market to grow at a CAGR of 20.6 percent over the period 2011-2015. One of the key factors contributing to this market growth is the benefits of tablet computers over laptops. The Global Tablet Computers market has also been witnessing growing demand for tablet computers in enterprises. However, competition from Ultrabooks could pose a challenge to the growth of this market.
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