Keep Taking the Tablets

The iPad and a growing number of other tablets continue to challenge the dominance of the PC; new arrivals such as the Aakash may make an even bigger mark. They continue to redefine where computers are used and in the process, how we do things.

What is changing?

Apple is likely to sell about 47 million iPads in 2011 and will probably continue to dominate the tablet market for the next 3- 4 years, despite the flurry of new products from other suppliers hitting the market. By 2015 Android tablets are expected collectively to account for about 50% of total tablet sales of about 326 million units; Apple still capturing about 148 million. According to recent figures, 8% of households in the US now own a tablet computer; 12% own an e-reader; and 3% own both.

PCs meanwhile, even portable ones, face slower sales growth as younger consumers turn to smart phones or tablets and others –older and business users – delay replacing existing hardware. Most industry pundits have been revising PC growth rates downwards during 2011, with 3.8% increase the latest estimate. We probably ain’t seen nothing yet.

Why is this important?

Tablets are redefining the industry and markets. HP is rethinking its whole PC strategy; Amazon is launching the Kindle Fire; Microsoft and Nokia are hoping for revitalisation; HTC is betting on them. However, one of the newest arrivals on the market, the Aakash, could be an even bigger game changer if it moves outside its home market in India to the West. It retails at $50 in India and is aimed at the education market, with support from the Indian government. It will also be available on the mass market from the latter part of 2011. Indonesia is also thought to be developing a very low cost tablet. Computing could be the next market in the West to be on the receiving end of frugal innovation and radically low price points, opening up massive opportunities in western as well as emerging markets.

Computing could be the next market in the West to be on the receiving end of frugal innovation and radically low price points, opening up massive opportunities in western as well as emerging markets.

The versatility and simplicity of the iPad, and other tablets, continue to take them into new places. Some 30% of US doctors owned an iPad within a year of launch. They are using them for Electronic Medical Records, admin, even in the operating theatre to get better images from inside patients and to explore other data during operations. Aircrews are using them as electronic flight bags storing manuals, data, even maps, route and airport data. Pharmaceutical salesmen estimate they could make 1000s of additional calls by using iPads to support their data management. Schools are considering replacing textbooks with iPads. Consumers are using them to multi-task while watching TV and socialising with friends; taking them to work in preference to using work PCs, as companies adopt ‘bring your own’ policies.

New tools, adaptors and extensions are also turning them into credit card readers; augmented reality devices for gaming, shopping and training; even extending the touch screen to surfaces on which the tablet is resting so that, for example, a ball which rolls across a surface nearby and bumps into the side of the tablet, then ‘appears’ and continues across the tablet screen.

As prices fall and consumers become more familiar with tablets, so tablets will be incorporated into more products such as fridges in the home to provide nutrition or recipe ideas easily and in situ; displays in shops or vending machines to provide more detailed product or comparison information; even personalised offers and advice to registered customers or store card holders. Tablets are set to redefine where and how we do a whole range of things.

By Sheila Moorcroft

About the author

Sheila has over 20 years experience helping clients capitalise on change – identifying changes in their business environment, assessing the implications and responding effectively to them. As Research Director at Shaping Tomorrow she has completed many futures projects on topics as diverse as health care, telecommunications, innovation management, and premium products for clients in the public and private sectors. Sheila also writes a weekly Trend Alert to highlight changes that might affect a wide range of organisations.

  • Maikol Akintonde

    Focus should be on workability. As much as I admire the ipad and iphone, for a lot of what I do, I need flash to make it work.  I want to work and play without having to figure out and work around the next gap, a reason I also use Sprint for their unlimited internet, calls and text plan.