IDC: HP off to early lead in Tablet PC shipments

Through the end of December, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HP) had a slight lead over Fujitsu Ltd. in worldwide shipments of Tablet PCs, according to research released Monday by IDC. Around 72,000 units had been sold through December, IDC said.

HP had shipped about 17,000 units of its Compaq Tablet PC TC1000, compared to shipments of about 15,000 Stylistic ST4000 Tablets from Fujitsu, said Alan Promisel, an analyst with IDC in Framingham, Massachusetts. Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.'s Portege 3500 was third with about 10,500 units, and Acer Inc.'s TravelMate 100 was fourth with about 8,000 units, Promisel said.

Tablet PC vendors launched their devices on Nov. 7, in conjunction with Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP Tablet PC Edition launch the same day.

"For only six weeks, 70,000 units is pretty significant. We're still at the very early stages of the early adopters," Promisel said.

Those early adopters have come mainly from users with specific needs for mobility, such as health care workers, traveling salespeople, and warehouse managers, he said. Corporations are still evaluating the devices, and probably won't start adopting them in significant numbers for another six to 12 months, he said.

HP's strong marketing efforts and existing enterprise customer base helped it to the early lead, Promisel said. But Fujitsu's strength in delivering tablet-like products such as its pen-based Lifebook series for a number of years showed in its strong early performance, he said.

The Compaq Tablet PC TC1000 is a convertible notebook device, while Fujitsu's product is a slate device. Back in November, analysts predicted that the convertible devices would be a better draw initially because of their resemblance to ultraportable notebooks. The keyboard on HP's device is detachable, allowing it to function both as a convertible notebook and slate device. Toshiba's product is a true convertible notebook, with a notebook display that swivels to cover the keyboard when used in tablet mode.

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