With the recent announcement of the iPad HD, coupled with the steady release of Android-based tablets and the upcoming release of the tablet-oriented Windows 8 OS, we’re seeing a continual acceleration in the tablet market. But is this relatively new niche a fad, or is it the future? And perhaps more important, what kind of impact is it having on the sale of laptops and workstations? Today, I’m going to bestow upon anyone who will listen my thoughts on the matter.
Let me begin by saying this: I don’t currently own a tablet. Yep, that’s right. No iPad. No Kindle Fire. Nada. And the simple reason being, it just hasn’t become a necessity for me…yet. Maybe it never will. Only time will tell. Your mileage will certainly vary depending on your specific computing needs, but for me, a tablet is still just another tech toy…albeit a convenient one.
I’m web designer. A tablet is nowhere near adequate to meet my day in and day out computing needs – 90% of the time, when I plan to utilize the internet, I’m planning to work. Those few times that I’m not working and want to check email or hop on Facebook, my iPhone fits the bill. Would a shiny new iPad look great on my living room table? You bet! And being able to browse social networks, look up a recipe, or play a few rounds of Fruit Ninjas on a roomy screen without having to pull out that laptop or go sit at my desk would sure be great, too. But herein lies the problem for me. I can’t replace my iPhone with the iPad. I can’t replace my slew of work computers with it, either. And, I don’t as of yet have $500+ just lying around begging me to spend it on something. But many people do. And that’s where the tablet has found it’s target audience so far.
As tablets continue to become more robust, and antiquated models are marked down to reach out to a wider audience, I think we’ll see a steady broadening of that target market. For those who don’t work in a computer-related industry, a tablet is probably adequate 90% of the time. And it certainly fits the bill for students looking to take notes in class without hassling with the bulk (and subpar battery life) of most entry-level laptops. Not only that, but the growing accessory market for tablets means that many laptop advantages like physical keyboards are no longer relevant.
I think things are poised for tablets to continue gaining traction. Up to this point, though, tablet sales have had very little (if any) impact on computer sales. And you know what? I don’t expect that to change any time in the near future. As tablets continue to grow in popularity, there could be a very small dip in laptop sales as more and more students and casual PC-users opt to retire their antiquated laptops and buy an iPad instead. But the needs of business-users for more capable devices will remain unchanged, as will their demand for personal computers.
If you, like most people, don’t have the money to shell out for both a new laptop and the latest iPad, here’s my advice to you: stick with the laptop. Chances are, 90+% of the time the tablet will do everything you need it to. But what about the other 5 or 10%? Try writing a 50 page research paper on the iPad. Not a good experience. Photo editing? Only the very basics on the iPad. Easy multi-tasking? No-go. Gaming? You’ll find an EXCELLENT game selection on all iOS devices – but if you’re an avid PC gamer, it definitely won’t be the same experience. And forget about managing a sizable media library – even the top-level model will only store a relatively small amount of Photos, Music, and (especially) Movies. And with no easy way to interface with an external hard drive – well, you get the idea.
So, there you have it. If you want my advice, buy a new laptop first. If you want an iPad, it makes an EXCELLENT companion device to a personal computer – save up for it, and spend wisely. My $0.02, for whatever it’s worth.