Research firm Forrester said on Tuesday that Apple's smaller retail presence in Europe poses an opportunity to competing companies including Samsung, Acer and Research in Motion, Reuters reports. The iPad maker has 52 stores in the region, compared to 238 in the United States.
"There is this opportunity for iPad challengers, but the competition is very fragmented. Competing with Apple will require a different approach from what we've seen so far," said analyst Sarah Rotman Epps.
But, in order to compete, competitors will need to cut their prices, as Apple's larger scale and efficient supply chain give it an advantage. "A competitor to Apple would have to put together the right content, the right price and the right channel strategy. There isn't anyone that has all three," she said.
"Manufacturers, retailers and operators we spoke with all commented on the failure of the first 7-inch tablets that attempted to compete with the iPad," Forrester said. "The newer generation of iPad challengers, such as the 10-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Acer Iconia Tab, are getting better reception, but they're still at a disadvantage to Apple in terms of channel strategy."
The firm surveyed nearly 14,000 online consumers throughout Europe to find that between 2 and 7 percent of consumers surveyed own a tablet and 10 to 14 percent are interested in buying one. Tablet ownership was highest in Spain and lowest in France. Interest in tablets was highest in Germany.
Forrester sees Apple maintaining an 80 percent share of the tablet market in the U.S. and a 70 percent share in Europe in 2011. Europe is expected to account for 30 percent of worldwide tablet sales, which are forecast to reach 48 million units this year.
After first releasing the original iPad in the U.S. in April 2010, Apple quickly rolled the tablet out to several European countries. Apple's pricing results in a premium for European customers, who pay as much as $702 for the entry-level iPad 2, which costs $499 in the U.S.
Earlier this year, European regulators indicated that Google's Android operating system may help Apple avoid antitrust probes. The European Commission indicated that the touchscreen tablet market is "relatively new and evolving" and alternative platforms are emerging.
Apple sold 9.25 million iPads in the June quarter with growth of 183 percent year over year.