UK market research agency YouGov believes most tablets launched this year are doomed to failure unless they can hit the magic price point for wider adoption: £250.
Russell Feldman, Associate Director for Technology and Telecoms Consulting at YouGov, made the prediction as he commented on the pollster's latest TabletTrack survey.
"At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, earlier this year, over 80 tablets were announced for launch later in 2011," said Feldman. "YouGov expects most of these tablets to fail to achieve widespread distribution. However, our analysis clearly demonstrates that if the pricing is right and the device is marketed at the correct audience, then there is significant latent demand."
The "right price" that will transform proddable PCs into more than a niche product, says YouGov, is around £250. The company arrived at the figure after questioning 2,000 UK adults who don't currently own a tablet. Researchers found that £250 was the price at which 'hot prospects' for tablet sales would start reaching for their wallets.
Punters who currently rejected or were lukewarm about proddable PCs indicated they'd need the price to fall to between £150 and £200 before they'd consider buying one.
The findings could spell bad news for the latest entrants to the tablet market such as the HTC Flyer (£599) and Motorola Xoom (£579).
The TabletTrack study also revealed that existing tablet sales were eating into the market for other devices. Around one in 12 tablet owners - eight per cent - bought a tablet instead of, or to replace, a desktop computer, laptop or other computer. According to the research, 11 per cent of Samsung Galaxy Tab owners and seven per cent of iPad owners had done so.
Of those who were looking to purchase a tablet in future, 16 per cent said they wanted one to replace a laptop, and nine per cent as a substitute for a netbook.
Handheld slabs haven't driven the rest of the market to extinction just yet, though. More than three-quarters of tablet owners (76 per cent) bought their touchscreen device in addition to another computer.
YouGov predicts that the pace of tablet adoption is likely to quicken as prices fall. More than one in eight of those questioned (13 per cent) said they were seriously considering buying a tablet, with over two-thirds of these having already chosen which model they'd get.