No NFC tablets on the market despite Slate demand soaring, manufacturers slow to respond
Posted by Seth PlanckJuly 27th, 2011 at 2:57 PM Filed Under Featured
Slate demand soars but no NFC tablets on the market
There isn’t any commercially available NFC tablets in the market. That fact is surprising at best, and shockingly uncompetitive when you consider the opportunity that awaits a manufacturer that builds and deploys NFC tablets. The demand for this type of product transcends consumers and has an important part to play for business, in retail situations and beyond. NFC phones have been slow to emerge but NFC tablets have been nearly non-existent. TazTag has announced and shown off its TazPad but has yet to launch NFC tablets to the market. HP is rumored to be stuffing NFC chips within slates this year with whispers of a HP mobile wallet in the making, but as yet we have no idea when this may happen.
RIM’s PlayBook sales are languishing and only one tablet, the Samsung Galaxy tab, is making any impact at all against Apple’s iPad, which has sold a remarkable 29 million units according to Juniper Research in the first five quarters since launch. Apple rules the market with an iron fist and manufacturers need to compete with any differential and value added features possible if they hope to carve out some market share, and yet not one of them has brought NFC tablets to market. Apple is largely rumored to be bringing a new iPad to market this September, a full six months ahead of its normal schedule, which may or may not include an NFC chip and yet supposed competitors appear to fall further behind because they cannot compete with the ecosystem that the iPad lives in or the beautiful aesthetics that Apple consistently designs. Supporting the contactless technology and mobile wallets could be a new niche in the industry for an industrious manufacturer, but nobody has taken up the gauntlet to get an NFC tablets to market in the near future aside from TazTag.
NFC tablets may not be in the market but tablet demand is going through the roof
Retrevo has recently released its latest study that attempts to identify demand for tablets, and where as this study doesn’t directly relate to NFC tablets, it starts to show the opportunity being missed in the marketplace. The study found that one aspect of NFC tablets tablets dominated respondents’ answers, which was price. One thousand people were questioned to make up the findings of this report and aside from those who had no interest in owning a tablet, 79% of respondents said that if a tablet cost below $250 they would buy one. Forty-eight percent said if a tablet cost less than $300 they would purchase one, and 31% said they would be placing one on the plastic if a tablet cost less than $400.
Out of all those who indicated that they had an interest in purchasing a tablet, 48% of those questioned said that a low price was the number one feature to them. Twenty-eight percent said a high resolution display and 20% said better input features, like a better keyboard and speech recognition, would be what pried the cold cash from their steely grips. It may appear that Apple has the market tied up tight and that no competitor can compete, but the survey found that there is room for competitors and consumers are not as stuck on Apple as you may think. Fifty percent of people questioned who intended to buy a tablet this year said the one for them would be an Apple iPad. Twenty-one percent said no iOS for me, I want an Android slate and 10% said they were likely to but a tablet which supported a different operating system. Nineteen percent couldn’t make up their minds and said yes to multiple categories.
Again, not specific to NFC tablets, but the survey asked participants which brand of slate they would be interested in (iPad not included) and 55% said Amazon which shows the brand recognition and trust for the marque. 31% indicated it would be a Motorola that accompanied them home and 31% also said they would plump for a HP. Thirty-eight percent said either a Samsung or Dell and Barnes and Noble slumped in at 21% while RIM only did marginally better with 24% saying they would seriously consider a Playbook.
NFC tablets in retail
One of our team members went to a local coffee shop the other day that roasts their own beans and have you pay by using a tablet. An iPad NFC tablets wirelessly linked to a cash draw to be exact, with a full POS software backend. The tablet form factor is big enough for use in retail situations but is small enough and attractive enough to represent an aesthetic upgrade over traditional POS terminals. This particular slate didn’t have NFC capabilities because there are no NFC accessories for tablets at this time and there are no NFC tablets to purchase full-stop. This specific setup required a card swiper that wirelessly connected to the tablet. The owner of the store indicated that he would love to have NFC tablets to accept payments and lamented that he could then take coffee to customers and conduct the transaction where the customer was sitting rather than having a counter based system. It isn’t that there isn’t demand for NFC tablets and without the hardware, developers cannot build the software to support the technology. This fall, Verifone starts to trial a case it has built to turn any slate into an NFC tablet for retail payments, the case is built for both iPad and Android slates and the relevant apps to allow full POS terminal functionality. The case that transforms tablets into NFC tablets isn’t expected to hit the market properly until early 2012 and will probably carry a contract agreement to use it. The only reason this product will sell at all is because there is NFC tablets demand in the market for NFC tablets and there is “not a one” available. If Apple doesn’t change everything again and introduce NFC tablets to the world in September, we expect to see a plethora of releases in 2012. If Android manufacturers allow Apple to get an NFC iPad in the market first, it may dominate NFC tablets just as it has with the normal iPad and another opportunity will be lost.
If you combine the results from the survey above and factor in the massive market potential of NFC payments, and the new found luster for a Amazon slate, it seems to us that if Amazon’s offering provides NFC tablets that are subsidized to cost under $300 by NFC mobile wallet and credit card companies who are clambering for market share, they could own a sizable chunk of the potential NFC tablets market.