Monday, July 11, 2011

International Business Times asks "Are Tablets a Fad?"

I'm not the first to ask that question, but there's good reason to pose it again. Media tablet shipments plummeted 28 percent sequentially during first quarter, says IDC. Even iPad missed earlier expectations.
The analyst firm released the data today, expressing some surprise for the sudden slowdown and offering little explanation. Merely 7.2 million tablets shipped in Q1.
The 7.2 million tablets is less than the 12 million projected for sale in the first quarter of 2011.

The answer is clearly no, but neither is the tablet the end of the personal computer. Basically, all these new gadgets replace tools which have been in use for a century. The personal computer or laptop replaces the typewriter, the smartphone replaces the planner and diary, while the tablet replaces a notebook and pen. They all provide additional functionality which did not exist before like the ability to browse the web and play digital media, but ultimately they replace tools which we could not live without before.

Long before the computer age, a planner, notepad and typewriter were essential tools of my trade. So today, I use a smarthphone and laptop. One day a tablet with a keyboard might replace my laptop (wait, that is a touchscreen laptop). For those who never really needed a typewriter (those who do not prepare long formal documents) on a regular basis, the tablet would be a better choice than a laptop. No point lugging around a keyboard to type in 140 characters or to type a short letter email. If you plan to use your tablet to type your thesis, I recommend you get a external keyboard.

Tablets will eat into PC sales, since some people will realize they really do not need a PC. But the tablet won't replace the PC. It wont even replace the netbook (which will disappear on their own as they morph into cheap ultraportables) In the end though I cannot imagine someone living without a PC or a tablet, many will own both. The smartphone though is supreme, whether you prefer a PC or a tablet, you need a phone, and sooner or later, every phone will be a smartphone.

Are tablets a fad? No. They are here to stay, they are not the end-all and be-all of computing, whether mobile or otherwise. 

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