SINGAPORE: Tablet sales are set to increase rapidly in Asia Pacific as consumer demand grows and local challengers to Apple's iPad emerge, a study has argued.

IDC, the research firm, estimated shipments of these appliances across APAC, excluding Japan, should rise from 1.3m in 2010 to 9.6m in 2014, a compound annual growth rate of 65%.

In the near term, Australia, Hong Kong and Singapore are due to be the main drivers of this process, with China and South Korea becoming "major opportunities” by the end of the forecast period.

Apple's iPad has been the dominant player in the category during its "first wave", but IDC predicted that both PC and mobile phone manufacturers would redouble their efforts to take on the market leader.

Bryan Ma, IDC's associate vice president, Asia Pacific devices and peripherals research, also suggested slates may fuel incremental media use, rather than rendering existing technology products obsolete.

"Media tablets are expected to occupy a space between smartphones and portable PCs without replacing either," he said.

"They will complement PCs as media consumption devices, while allowing seamless sharing of content with mobile phones.

"Currently marketed as multifunction entertainment devices, the success of media tablets will hinge critically on the availability of local applications and content."

More specifically, Ma anticipated the transition of these gadgets from being primarily the reserve of early adopters to the mainstream is gathering pace.

"Media tablets are certainly the talk of the town today, but the next year or so will be critical for the category's evolution as early adopters figure out what they really need a media tablet for," he said.

"Simple web surfing and gaming apps could still provide enough of a value proposition to allow the category to move forward here."

Although the sector is projected to witness intensifying rivalry globally, Asian challenger brands potentially pose a major threat to Apple.

"In Asia in particular, the iPad is likely to spark off intense competition from Asian brands, leading to a wealth of offerings in varying price tiers," said Ma.

"With operators migrating towards 4G networks in the coming years, media tablets will further become a strategic vehicle for increased mobile data usage."

Acer, Lenovo and G'Five are just some of the Asian companies which have already introduced their own slates to date.

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff