Apple’s iPad line of tablet computers has undoubtedly spurred a host of competitors—and sparked life to a category of computers that was previously unheard of among consumers. But will tablets like the iPad 2, Motorola Xoom and BlackBerry Playbook have the chops to dethrone traditional laptop and desktop computers? The answer is “yes,” say makers and retailers.
Recently, Industry analysts noted the dramatic rise of worldwide sales of tablet computers. In 2010 when Apple introduced its first iPad, only 19 million tablets were sold globally. But experts predict that tablet sales are on track to more than double to 50 million units by the end of this year. And by 2012, sales could double again to 100 million tablets.
Meanwhile, another recent survey detailed how tablet owners have essentially turned their backs on other devices.
The Nielsen Company found that nearly 77 percent of it poll of tablet owners now use the touch-screen devices for tasks that would have previously required their computers. In fact, about 35 percent of tablet owners polled said they use their desktop computer less, or not at all. Nearly a third of respondents said the same of their laptop. Time spent with other digital devices, such as e-book readers and video game systems, also fell—27 and 20 percent, respectively.
The tablets’ key attractions, said respondents to Nielsen’s poll: Easier portability (31 percent), easier interface (21) and faster start-up (11).
Analysts and retailers admit that the computer isn’t dead—yet. Laptops still dominated worldwide sales last year at 230 million units. But, the writing is on the wall.
Global PC sales in the first quarter of this year fell 11 percent compared to the same quarter last year—the biggest drop in nearly 10 years. And it’s widely anticipated that the number of tablets sold in the U.S. this year will leapfrog laptop sales—just as laptops surpassed desktops during the last decade.
Naturally, electronics stores are taking notice—and planning ahead. Retailers, such as Best Buy, are boosting in-store sales areas dedicated solely to tablets. In one Best Buy in West Los Angeles, the store’s “Tablet Central” area is quadrupling in size, from 4 to 16 feet of shelf space. Rafael Barragan, manager of that store, told the LA Times:
There’s definitely a huge swing to the tablet market. Pretty soon everything is going to be touch-screen.
What do you think? If you bought an Apple iPad or other tablet, do you find yourself forsaking your other computers and devices? Or do you still prefer the power, flexibility and familiarity of inexpensive laptops and desktop? Weigh in below.
And if you’re still undecided if a laptop, netbook, or tablet is right for you, check out Consumer Reports’ free Buying Guide to Computers.
The rise of tablet computers [LA Times]
Connected Devices: How We Use Tablets in the U.S. [Nielsen]
Tablets Cutting into Laptop/Desktop Use, Nielsen Finds [PC World]
Are Tablets Replacing PCs, Other Gadgets? [PCMag]
iPad Owns 82% Of U.S. Tablet Market [Information Week]