Once more, innovation is breeding imitation. Analyst Craig Ellis now counts at least 69 entries in the tablet category, up from 38 in November. He projects 53.6 million tablets to be shipped next year, of which 36.1 million will be iPads. It's worth remembering that tablets were around well before the iPad came on the scene, but they had been little-noticed product. Many of the new products will be on display at next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas. From Eric Savitz:
The real question is whether anyone - Samsung, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Research In Motion, whoever - can make a dent in a market that Apple so far has completely dominated. There's no question that many of these companies can and will produce attractive, capable products. But there's not much proof yet that users are pining for alternatives to the iPad; we'll see if the perception shifts at all by the end of next week when CES winds down.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese Web site Digitimes reports that the iPad 2 will have three new versions that will allow Internet connectivity on other services besides AT&T. Roughly two-third of the iPads being shipped have 3G capability, which suggests that users like having access to the Internet all the time, not just where Wi-Fi connections are available. The new iPad is expected to be released in March or April. (via Wash Post)