2013: Year of the tablet

2013: Year of the tablet

San Francisco : CA : USA | Nov 26, 2012 at 2:14 PM PST
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The new Apple iPad

Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2012 could mark a sea change in the computing world. Sales for tablet computers may overtake laptop sales for the first time.

Richard Shim, analyst for NPD DisplaySearch, expected Black Friday to be the “catalyst for tablets to pass notebook shipments for the first time in North America, a trend which we expect to continue for the foreseeable future.”

This possible shift is major news for the industry. The first portable computer, the Osborne 1, was introduced in 1981, over three decades ago. Though flimsy attempts at tablet computers have been produced since the early 1990s (including Apple’s own chunky Newton platform, released in 1993 and cancelled within 5 years), the market has been mostly nonexistent until Apple released the iPad in 2010.

Initial reactions weren’t sterling—wasn’t the iPad essentially a big iPhone that couldn’t call your mother?

Sales figures slammed those early critics, many of whom are probably smudging up an iPad right now. Apple had another enormous hit on their hands. The iPad stands as the late Steve Jobs’ final major innovation.

For a long time, tech analysts joked that there was no such thing as a tablet market, just an iPad market (give them a break, they're analysts, not comedians). Amazon and Google attacked the iPad from a lower price range. Apple’s latest shot is the iPad Mini, released last month. But with Microsoft enjoying the hype of the recently released Surface tablet, the damage is done. Now a tablet market exists, even though Apple controls at least half of it.

As Cupertino does battle with the Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HD, and Surface, the real loser is the traditional PC, left in the digital dust. NPD DisplaySearch’s forecast for the shipment of tablets to North America for the end of 2012 is 21.5 million units. The forecast for laptops is 14.6 million. That’s a 3:2 ratio.

Shim contends that 2013 will be the first time tablets overtake notebook shipments, with 80 million tablets shipped compared to 63.8 million notebooks.

He believes the passing of the crown is due to tech titans focusing more and more energy to tablet efforts instead of notebooks, consumers preferring tablets, and, with over 70% of Americans already owning a PC, many consumers are buying a tablet instead of upgrading to a brand new computer.

The good news for you? As competition heats up, the price of quality tablets will probably drop.

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Apple iPad's tablet computer
Apple iPad's tablet computer
Barry Eitel is based in Oakland, California, United States of America, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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