Tablet computers have been around for a while, but they didn’t really capture the imagination until last year, when rumors of the Apple Tablet swirled with a fury. Deloitte predicts that netbook-sized tablets – NetTabs – will fill in the space between notebooks and smartphones, reaching perhaps $1 billion in 2010. NetTabs are netbook-sized tablets whose functionalities are modeled after smartphones. Their cost will be in the $400-$800 range. “With a new form factor and significant processing capacity, connected portable devices will likely be purchased by tens of millions of people in 2010,” according to Deloitte. “These devices have an advantage over smartphones—which are small for watching videos or web browsing—and notebooks, netbooks, and ultra-thin PCs, which are too heavy, or expensive.

The NetTab predictions are part of Deloitte’s Technology Predictions 2010 (PDF).

It’s hard to predict with any type of certainty how these devices will perform, since we’re still awaiting their release.

Some of the concerns Deloitte has about NetTabs relate directly to providers. As NetTabs will be more expensive than smartphones and even netbooks, companies will be expected to subsidize a larger amount of money. There is also the concern that the size of these devices will lead to more consumers streaming bigger HD media files, consuming a lot of bandwidth.

Deloitte does not expect that NetTabs will cannibalize smartphone or PC markets, as the new devices do not replace these technologies – they’re not powerful enough for serious computing, not a portable as a phone. Deloitte does think they pose a threat to e-readers, though.

The major concern is that if these devices fall in between the two categories, smartphones and netbooks, designers could compromise in the wrong directions. It’s easy to see NetTabs as, on one hand, giving up the portability of smartphones while, on the other hand, not meeting the functionality of a netbook. If NetTabs cannot serve as a replacement of one of these devices, the price will prove too costly as it now stands in the $400-$800 range.

(Image: Wikipedia)

By Mark Alvarez