The death of the tablet market?! – continued
Five months ago I posted about the “death of the tablet market”.
And it seems it happens sooner than we thought.
Apple announced its quarterly earnings last week. iPhone sales figures weren’t surprising – they sell like hot cakes. What was surprising though was the iPad. Sales were actually lower (in units sold) compared to Mac sales.
So traditional computers are outselling tablet devices? Is the tablet computer four years after it’s introduction bound to experience a rather quick death?
In my earlier post I made the claim that a tablet device is primarily a device of convenience. A sofa computer that is a nice-to-have but not a necessity for most of us. It’s different with smartphones and computers, those are essential devices for the majority of us to get stuff done.
But there’s more.
When the iPad was introduced in 2010 smartphones were still rather small devices (at least compared to today’s standards). The iPhone had a 3.5 inch screen. Other manufacturers were just starting to experiment with bigger screens.
Now it’s 2014. Apple brought out the iPhone 6 Plus with a massive 5.5 inch screen. There are even 6 inch devices for Android on the market. Meanwhile, tablets range in sizes from 7 inch all the way up to 11 or 12 inch.
Consumers asked for bigger screens on their phones as our use of those devices shifted. The downsides of big screens such as “I can’t use it with one hand” or “it doesn’t fit in my pocket” don’t seem to be an obstacle for the adoption of bigger screens.
But if you already own a smartphone with a six inch screen, what’s the point of having a tablet? Both devices, smartphone and tablets, are primarily used to consume content, for gaming, and do light working such as answering emails, scheduling appointments or texting.
This post wasn’t written on a tablet. I would certainly be able to do so, but it would take me a lot longer so I chose my computer.
To me, a computer with a screen and physical keyboard is a necessity I don’t want to replace with a tablet. My smartphone is necessary for my job to keep my daily email flood in check.
So with that in mind, where will the tablet computer go?
I think it will follow the destiny of the MP3 player. MP3 players still exist today but they’ve become a “niche product”. Smartphones all include the ability to play MP3 files so there’s no need for a separate device unless you have a specific use for it.
Tablets will take a similar route. They will “merge” with smartphones that are becoming bigger and laptops that are becoming thinner.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet is an interesting approach. It can run the normal Windows operating system, is a tablet (albeit a chunky one) if you need it and a laptop with keyboard if you choose you need one.
So here’s my prediction: tablets will continue to exist, but the distinction between a “smartphone”, “tablet” and “computer” will soon become a very difficult one to make.