Honey, can you pick up a tablet at the grocery store?
By Leila Abboud and Paul Sandle
BARCELONA Feb 27 (Reuters) - Originally derided as a pricey niche product for geeks, tablet computers have become so common that supermarkets are now selling their own brands, pushing out low-cost rivals.
The shifting nature of the market underscores how millions of people are choosing simpler devices to surf the web, send emails and shop, putting pressure on traditional PC companies.
And since Apple pioneered the tablet in early 2010, the gadgets now available at the lower end of the market are becoming commodity items that non-technology companies can order from Asian contractors using common components.
"Reference designs for tablets and smartphones from companies like Qualcomm have drastically reduced barriers to entry and increased commoditisation pressure in the hardware industry," said Sameer Singh, Hyderabad-based tech analyst.
"This opens the door for not only players that can survive on low margins, but also for companies that use hardware as a channel for something else."
Tesco in Britain and Walmart in the United States, are selling their own branded tablets pitched at customers unwilling to pay $400 or more for an Apple or Samsung product.
Grocers like Tesco and France's Carrefour are not only trying to cash in on booming tablet sales, but also to nudge people to buy everything from films to groceries from their online stores, pushed through their devices, a lesson learned from Amazon and Google.
Traditional computer makers including Asus, Acer , HP, Lenovo, Dell, Sony, LG will continue to be squeezed, said Gartner analyst Tracy Tsai. Continued...