After undisputed tablet market leader Apple, Samsung and Acer are vying for the No. 2 tablet slot worldwide, according to market researcher DisplaySearch.
While Apple shipped about 4.7 million 10-inch class tablets last quarter, Samsung is shaping up to be the closest competitor at about 850,000 units shipped worldwide in the same quarter, according to Richard Shim of DisplaySearch, which pegs its numbers to vendors' public statements.
Close on Samsung's heels is Acer. The new kid on the block, Acer appears to be making gains with its 10.1-inch Iconia Tab A500 tablet. Acer has shipped 800,000 units in the current quarter, the first financial period to reflect meaningful numbers, according to Shim.
But that number masks some bad news. Acer cut its 2011 tablet shipment forecasts dramatically to between 2.5 million and 3 million units from a previous projection of 5 million to 7 million units, Shim said, citing statements this month by Acer.
And Acer is not alone. Other tablet makers are cutting back. In a report earlier this month, J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said that non-Apple tablet makers have received a "dose of reality" by failing to make a product that is in high demand like the iPad. Moskowitz estimates the number of tablets that companies collectively plan to build for the year has dropped to 73 million from the 81 million he forecast in March.
Both Samsung and Acer, like Apple, have a strong presence in both Europe and Asia. Unlike Apple, they use Google's Android operating system.
Samsung, which has been selling a 7-inch Galaxy Tab and just began selling a 10.1-inch model, is now accentuating thinness and weight, like the iPad: the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is roughly as thin and as light as the iPad 2.
Acer, which has a strong PC heritage, is focused more on connectivity. The Iconia Tab 500 is relatively heavy and sports an HDMI and a USB port and a memory card (microSD) slot. Acer will also begin selling a 7-inch tablet this quarter.
Also in the running is the so-called whitebox market. Though a distinct category when compared with the market share of single vendors cited above--since the whitebox market is an amalgamation of many small vendors--whiteboxes as a whole are second to Apple, according to DisplaySearch.