Tablet Market Gaining Altitude

appleThe global market for tablets is estimated to rise to around $31.86 billion this year, with over 100 million units delivered, according to Visiongain. But this is only the beginning, as the demand for tablets steadily rises higher, driven by nimbler tablets with added functions, application complexity, and the advent of cloud computing that allows unlimited storage. And, by 2016, it’s estimated that about 360.4 million tablets will be sold, according to IHS iSuppli. The reigning market leader continues to be Apple Inc. (NASDAQ/AAPL), which is predicted to see its global market share rally to 61% this year. Apple is a killer in the personal computing market and a top long-term buying opportunity.

Just take a look at the numbers. Apple is by far the dominant player and best buying opportunity in the tablet market. Samsung is a distant second, with a 7.5% market share, while the “Kindle Fire” made by, Inc. (NASDAQ/AMZN) is holding to a four percent share. Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ/RIMM) and ASUSTek Computer Inc. (Pink Sheets/ASUUY) are trailing the others in the top five with a miniscule 2.3% share.

Research In Motion makes a good “PlayBook” tablet, but has a lot of ground to make up. At this time, the stock, despite its price weakness, is not a buying opportunity.

There’s talk of the arrival of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ/MSFT) on the tablet scene, after its $300-million co-venture with Barnes and Noble, Inc. (NYSE/BKS) to improve the “Nook” mini tablet and try to capture some market share. This is a goal of Microsoft that I talked about in Should Apple Worry? Microsoft Targets Mobile Market. Microsoft will install its new operating system in the Nook, but it will not be easy to play catch-up. Microsoft may see some progress, with its enterprise clients using the “Windows” system. So, what this means is that Microsoft will likely continue to see erosion in its personal computer (PC), laptop, and netbook sales.

PC market leader Dell Inc. (NASDAQ/DELL) reported soft revenues due in part to weakening PC sales, as the demand for tablets rises. The weakening sales trend at Dell is in place. Dell sells tablets and innovative laptops that can revert to a tablet, but the company can’t match the appeal for the “iPad” and “Galaxy.”

I continue to view Apple as a long-term buying opportunity in spite of the current price pressure, with the stock down significantly from its record high of $644.00 on April 10.

In reality, I think it will just be a matter of time before tablets have the same functionality of laptops and PCs. For instance, when the first “iPhone” emerged a few years ago, there was minimal functionality. Users could not print e-mails or files sent to them; but now with the “airprint” feature on many wireless printers, you can print from an iPhone or iPad. We will soon be able to work on spreadsheets and other applications on tablets to the same degree of functionality as PCs and laptops. This makes the top tablet makers a buying opportunity.

The reality is that the technology world is ever evolving and there is a constant buying opportunity. The tablet is the top device now and Apple will remain a top buying opportunity longer-term.