iPad is Just the Beginning

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

Ushered in by the enormous success of Apple's iPad, the tablet era will see major developments in the years ahead.

The tablet era is just beginning. 

Yes, the sudden demise of the HP TouchPad, only weeks after its initial launch, demonstrates just how unpredictable and volatile the tablet market is.

But make no mistake, tablets are mainstream devices. Market research firm In-Stat predicts that tablet shipments will swell from 50.3 million in 2011 to 250 million units by 2017 (sales were essentially zero in 2009). Yet while the sheer number of devices that will be deployed is remarkable, there's more to the story, and that's how tablets will continue to change.

“The tablet market and its associated ecosystem are still evolving. Over the next few generations we will see more differentiation between devices that are targeting different market segments and usage models," says Jim McGregor, Chief Technology Strategist for In-Stat. Tablets will allow users almost unlimited access to content and communications. Consequently, he notes, “content and applications are now the key differentiators and innovation drivers.”  

According to In-Stat, tablets aren’t merely a replacement for the personal computer, they’re a substitute for an array of consumer electronics and business devices. They will likely further change the way people work and communicate. Among other predictions:

•    The 9-inch to 11-inch form factor will likely be the dominant tablet form factor with 56 percent of the market in 2017.
•    iOS and Android will maintain over 90 percent of the market share with Windows as a distant 3rd.
•    Wireless operator business models could have a tremendous impact on future tablet demand.

Already, tablets are altering the way people compute and communicate. A Nielsen study found that among those now using a tablet, 35 percent rely on their desktop computer less often or not at all; 32 percent report using their laptop less often or not at all. In addition, 28 percent of netbook users and 27 percent of e-reader owners use these devices less or have abandoned them since turning to a tablet.

This article was originally published on 2011-08-24
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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