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Android’s EU tablet struggle gets tougher with injunction against Galaxy Tab

Aug 9, 2011 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

Forrester estimates that Apple's iPad owns 30 percent of the European tablet market, with Android tablets, HP's Touchpad, and RIM's Playbook competing for the remaining 30 percent. Meanwhile, Apple won a preliminary injunction in a German court to keep Samsung from selling its Galaxy Tab 10.1 Android tablet in most of the European Union, says a report.

Despite the recent launch, with "huge marketing," of the Acer Iconia Tab (pictured) and Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in multiple European countries, Android tablets are still fighting over the 30 percent of the European market that hasn't already gone for the iPad, says a recent Forrester Research report.

According to the $499 report from Forrester's Sarah Rotman Epps, Android vendors, as well as HP and RIM, will need to lower prices and add more content if they want to compete.  Apple's iPad and iPad 2 are currently estimated to represent 70 percent market share for tablet sell-through — as opposed to shipments — to consumers in Europe, says the study.

Presumably, Android has the largest share of the remaining 30 percent, although Forrester says only that Android shares this remainder with RIM's Playbook tablet and HP's WebOS-based TouchPad (pictured at left). The Touchpad recently received a price cut to as low as $380 in the U.S. for the 16GB version, down from the original $499 pricetag when it launched July 1.

Strategy Analytics' second-quarter global tablet report pegged Apple at 61.3 percent worldwide, with Android at 30.1, Microsoft Windows at 4.6 percent, RIM's QNX-based Playbook at 3.3 percent, and the Touchpad at 0.7 percent. Forrester makes no mention of Windows tablets, although it's unclear whether sales are exceptionally low in Europe, or if the study excludes the more corporate-focused slates on which Windows tablet vendors have so far focused.

The reason for the relative failure of the other iPad competitors is simple, says Rotman Epps. The "iPad competitors' prices are too high, and no competitor has matched Apple on content or channel strategy," she writes.

Forrester notes, however, that outside the U.K., Apple could be vulnerable to competition. Out of Apple's 52 Apple Stores in Europe, 30 of them are said to be in the U.K.

According to Rotman Epps, lower pricing — which is being led by Chinese Android vendors Huawei and ZTE — will help fight back against Apple in Europe. Yet, "consumers need more than a lower price tag to buy," she adds. 

Brand-name recognition is particularly important in Europe, suggesting that Sony's S1 tablet (pictured at  with S2 model to its right) could do well when it ships this fall, writes Rotman Epps. Meanwhile, the rumored Android tablet could offer the magic combination of brand-name recognition and low pricing, says Forrester.

While the 70/30 split appears to represent Europe only, Forrester is also projecting that EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) will account for 14.5 million, or 30 percent, of worldwide consumer tablet sales in 2011. Three times as many Europeans as have tablets today say they are interested in buying one in the future, says the research firm.

Apple stops Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Europe

There are so many patent lawsuits against Android vendors these days, it's easy to forget that Apple sued Samsung over Android-related patents back in April. Now, according to an Aug. 9 Fortune report, a court in Germany has granted Apple a preliminary injunction barring distribution of the well-reviewed Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 in the entire European Union (EU) except The Netherlands.

The injunction came a week after Samsung agreed out of court to postpone the launch of the tablet in Australia, after similar Apple legal pressure, says the story. 

The Android 3.1 ("Honeycomb") Galaxy Tab 10.1 (pictured) went on sale June 8 in the U.S. in its Wi-Fi only version, and is now available for pre-order in its 4G LTE version on Verizon. As noted by Forrester, the tablet also received a heavily promoted launch in Europe. The tablet went on sale in the U.K. just last week, and was the fastest-selling tablet there since the iPad 2, according to the Telegraph.

A blog report on the injunction news by open source patent expert Florian Mueller, notes that Apple's complaint does not stem from the same Android-related patent issues involved with its larger lawsuit against Samsung, but rather concerns design-related intellectual property infringement from "slavishly" copying the design of the iPad 2.

Mueller also notes that German patent and IP law is much stricter than in the U.S. with respect to injunctions. In addition, the ruling court is said to have a reputation for favoring the interests of patent holders.

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