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This Week in Tablets: Olympics on demand, tablets in demand

Also inside: Every tablet manufacturer puts up record sales figures in Q2 2012

Every four years I roll my eyes at the thought of watching the Olympics. The thought of watching an endless cycle of gymnastic floor routines, swimming races, and track sprints just seems so boring in the weeks leading up to it.

But like clockwork, every four years, like much of the world, I get totally and completely sucked into the nightly drama for the duration of the Games.

(Based in the US, I will say that it would be nice to see some human interest stories on non-American athletes from time to time. I am almost certain that they would be more compelling than US athletes, who, once they’re discovered, receive the equivalent of a four-year scholarship in terms of training).

This year is no different, but my chosen medium has changed. I’m thrilled to be able to watch the 2012 Summer Games via my iPad. It’s a real game changer, and allows me to watch some of the less popular and far more interesting events.

Over here, this much is also clear: NBC is winning big with its decision to broadcast events onto mobile devices via the Internet. The broadcaster recently announced that 45 per cent of its video streams are coming via mobile device. That means that out of 64 million total video streams served via the Internet, mobile device usage represents almost 30 million viewers. That’s in the first week.

What a difference four years makes. In 2008, the only tablets that existed were Windows XP convertible laptop/tablet hybrids, and the iPhone had just recently winked into existence. And live-streaming any sport was literally a dream.

In light of NBC’s announcement and Amazon’s release this week of its Instant Video app for iPad, I can’t help but think that US wireless providers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless are shooting themselves in the foot and under-monetising tremendous demand to stream video. In four years, I fully expect these providers to offer video-oriented streaming packages that either utilise special radio bands or are applied to specific sports or events.

Mark my words: If they don’t figure this out, Comcast, Google, or another Internet service provider is going to capitalise on the public demand for non-Wi-Fi video streaming.

This week’s winner: tablet manufacturers

Samsung also killed it, shipping 2.4 million tablets, which is more than double the manufacturer’s total from Q2 2011. Amazon and Asus also saw sales increases this quarter vs. last year. (Samsung is playing it smart and quickly following up on the Galaxy Note’s success with a Galaxy Note 2 announcement on August 29.)

Assuming that tablet sales will pop even more this holiday season, I’m beginning to think that initial estimates that tablet shipments would reach 253 million by 2016 may actually be under-estimating growth in the tablet category.

TabTimes Managing Editor Steven Lang is 100 per cent right when he says that the tablet race is finally beginning.

This week’s loser: Apple

It’s hard to imagine being a loser in a week where 1) reports indicate your company is being considered for a spot on the Dow Jones index; and 2) you break records for tablet shipments in a quarter. But I can’t help but think that the enthusiasm for Apple devices is peaking right now.

Don’t get me wrong; the iPad is a champ, pure and simple, and it will continue to dominate market share for at least the next two years. But you can only announce utter domination so many times before it becomes, well, boring.

Compounding this situation, the competition is beginning to catch up, and this also takes some of the shine off Apple. Ironically, the two avenues that Apple and former chief exec Steve Jobs vociferously dismissed—the stylus and the 7in form-factor—are the two tablet categories the Samsungs, Googles and Amazons of this world are exploiting with success.

And then there’s Microsoft, which is eagerly capitalising on a perceived iPad weakness by pushing peripherals for its Surface tablet, and with a twist. The ‘Sculpt’ and ‘Wedge’ mouse and keyboard lines will be compatible with iPad and Android tablets as well as Surface and Win8 devices.

(Close runner-up here on the loser front is Rupert Murdoch’s The Daily, which announced a 33 per cent staff reduction early in the week. Sad news, but in retrospect, a staff of over 100 employees for a Tablet daily seems a bit much).

On the horizon

With rumours about a September 12 iPhone 5 and/or iPhone Mini announcement pending, expect to hear a lot more about both devices over the next two weeks.

If the rumoured date ends up being true, you can probably also count on Microsoft not announcing pricing for its Surface tablet until after Apple’s September event.

Article source: TabTimes