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Are 7 inch tablets better suited for India?

In India there are more than ten 7 inch tablets and very few 10 inch devices.

In India 70 per cent of tablets are 7 inch devices. Right from low cost tablets like Beetel Magiq, Reliance 3G Tab, MSI Enjoy 7, Viewsonic Viewpad 7, iBall Slide, HCL Me and Olivepad to the high end HTC Flyer, BlackBerry PlayBook and Samsung’s Galaxy 7 (launched much before its 10 and 8.9 inch devices,) are all 7 inch tablets.

And this despite the fact that Apple iPad, which is the current market leader with more than 80 per cent market share worldwide, is a 10 inch tablet. Some of the other tablets that have garnered interest across the world, like the Motorola Xoom, Acer Iconia, Asus Transformer, or the recently launched Galaxy 10 from Samsung are all 10 inch devices.

So why the inclination towards 7 inch tablets for India?
The first and most obvious reason seems to be price. With a smaller screen, manufacturers can price the smaller tablets lower and thus increase their target base.

And it’s not that 7 inch tablets have not found favour. In fact, all the high end 10 inch tablets have failed to make a dent on Apple iPad’s market share. On the contrary, Android has retained a size-able market share in Asia thanks to the lower end tablets.

According to Gartner, Android tablets had 14.3 per cent market share in 2010. Gartner’s forecast for Android has been lowered by 28 per cent from last quarter’s projection. “The reduction would have been greater had it not been for the success of budget tablets in Asia,” Gartner analysts noted in the report.

Perhaps one of the reasons that manufacturers focus on 7 inch tablets for India is the fact that Android tablets have failed to be any competition for iPad, which comes with a 9.8 inch screen. So they probably don’t want to compete in that screen size.

But price is not the only reason for focus on 7 inch tablets as some of the low cost brands like MSI, Zinglife (a very new name in consumer electronics) have introduced 10 inch tablets that are priced about the same as 7 inch tablets.

As Anand Narang, marketing and solutions director at Huawei, puts it, “Seven inch tablets are a good solution for the mobile workforce as they are a perfect combination of mobility, communication (video chat and calls), large screen and price.”

He adds, “Although we are going to be present in even the 10 inch space, that size is more for multimedia and entertainment. Small size lends 7 inch tablets the mobility that is needed by mobile executives as they can do quick mails, filling up simple forms, or chat face to face with bosses. 10 inch has no additional benefits when doing these jobs. And the other biggest advantage is the lower price, which is all important in a price sensitive market like India.”

As far as usability is concerned 7 inch tablets are easier to hold in one hand and type on than 10 inch devices are.

“A 7 inch tab is definitely more handy than a 10 inch tab. Users today are looking at sleeker, lighter and easy to carry mobile devices, where a 7 inch tab makes a strong case for itself,” opines Payal Gaba, vice president of brand and marketing, S Mobility.
While 10 inch definitely offers a bigger screen for better viewing experience (movies, photos and games are better,) 7 inch tablets are better when it comes to mobility. And since tablets have not been able to replace laptops as computing devices (they are not even intended for that right now), mobility does become more important.

While all is well with 7 inch devices on the mobility front, that’s not the case with applications. Most seven inch tablets are based on Android 2.2 and 2.3, which are smartphone optimised versions of Android, while the 10 inch devices boast tablet specific Android 3+.

Hence, neither smartphone apps, which are designed for smaller screens, nor the applications meant for larger 10 inch screens work properly on 7 inch tablets. But this is a short term problem as there will be fixes on the way as these tablets gain popularity.

So far there are no figures available on the number of tablets sold in the country, which could clearly suggest its dominance. Notably, Beetel Magiq, which is a 7 inch tablet, was sold out within weeks of being launched.

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