ABI: Just 13% of media tablets are shipped to mobile carriers

According to new figures from ABI Research, wireless carriers represented 13 percent of all media tablets shipped in the second quarter. The firm found brick-and-mortar stores were the most popular distribution point for media tablets, accounting for 43 percent of all vendor shipments in the second quarter.

The findings are key to mobile operators, which have made tablets a major focus this year in an effort to grow their addressable base with gadgets beyond smartphones.

ABI media tablet distribution

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"The traditional brick-and-mortar retail channel was first to find success with media tablets," noted ABI analyst Jeff Orr. "With an average worldwide selling price above $600 in 2010, most interested in the newer device form-factor wanted to see it, touch it and try it before they would commit to a purchase."

According to ABI, brick-and-mortar retail outlets like Best Buy and Walmart accounted for the majority of media tablet sales in the second quarter. Coming in second was direct channels with 35 percent, and that figure was likely dominated by iPad sales through Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) retail stores or Apple.com. Mobile operators accounted for 13 percent of tablet sales, and in last place was the third-party online retailer segment, such as Amazon.com, at 9 percent.

"The mobile carriers appear a reasonable media tablet channel too--a one-stop shop for devices, accessories and data services," Orr said. However, he pointed out that the bulk of tablets don't support mobile broadband connections--ABI found that in the first quarter around 36 percent of tablets sported built-in cellular connections and the rest included only Wi-Fi support. "The carriers need to step up the non-smartphone marketing to find a non-business audience that values them as a channel for 'computing' devices."

Apple continued to dominate the media tablet market in the second quarter. During the period the company shipped 9.25 million iPads. In comparison, Samsung shipped about 1.3 million of its Galaxy Tab tablets, according to ABI. Motorola Mobility (NYSE:MMI) shipped 440,000 Xoom Android tablets during the second quarter, and in its most recent quarter Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) shipped 200,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

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