Prepare for the Tablet Invasion

The consumer market is currently driving surging demand for tablet PCs, but the situation is about to change as enterprises, including manufacturers and services providers, increasingly adopt the device. As tablets go mainstream in schools and businesses, an intense fight for market share is brewing, and I expect many of the current suppliers will lose out to the handful of companies that have established instant name recognition in the segment.

In coming years, tablet PCs will be showing up in many segments of the economy: the financial services industry is already using it and so are realtors, retailers, restaurants, schools, manufacturers, etc. Tablets are replacing books and laptops in cockpits, in police patrol vehicles, on manufacturing floors, and in students' school bags. The adoption rate is so high, tablet shipment could be as high as for wireless handsets.

Of course, {complink 379|Apple Inc.} already has a significant head-start. In fact, Apple's lead is so enormous that its iPad is beginning to be seen as the generic brand name for the device, much as Aspirin, invented by Bayer, has become the industry nomenclature for the pain killer. When people talk nowadays about tablets, the visual image that comes to many minds — at least in the consumer market — is that of the iPad. Rivals are trying hard to combat this, knowing full well that the longer the iPad is associated with the line of product, the harder it will be for their offerings to gain market acceptance.

There's hope for them. Even though Apple currently controls a more than 70 percent market share in the sector, this is expected to decline slowly in coming quarters as products from companies like {complink 12925|Motorola Mobility Inc.} and {complink 4751|Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.} gain greater acceptance. In the enterprise sector, companies like {complink 1544|Dell Inc.}, which is actively promoting its product to businesses, will likely penetrate in the manufacturing sector, an area where functionality, pricing, and durability might be more important than the design elegance so critical to winning in the consumer market.

Apple is not absent in the enterprise market, though. In fact, the company is currently one of the strongest players in the market as Timothy Cook, Apple's CEO, pointed out during the company's recent quarterly conference call with analysts. The statistics cited by Cook clearly show how big the tablet market is likely to become in coming years. Shipment of tablets might even exceed the sale of traditional notebook and desktop computers, according to some reports. Here's an excerpt from Cook's statement:

It's been just 18 months since we introduced iPad and the pace at which businesses worldwide are adopting this technology is unprecedented. Today, 92 percent of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying iPad within their enterprises, up from 86 percent last year. Internationally, 52 percent of the Global 500 are testing or deploying iPad, up from 47 percent last quarter.

Every day, we learn about innovative new ways our enterprise customers are using iPad. The airline industry is a great example of the momentum we're seeing. United Continental Holdings is putting iPads in every cockpit to replace heavy, paper-based flight bags. In Japan, All Nippon Airways is now using iPad in training programs for flight attendants. Sonic Automotive is using iPad for customer check-in at the service department and also to provide analytics to regional managers. Aflac, Biogen and General Mills have developed internal apps that their field sales teams leverage daily, and technicians of Siemens Energy are bringing iPads along when they do maintenance work at the top of their wind turbines.

Cook's comments about how businesses are adopting and finding innovative ways to use tablet PCs point to a future wave. Many school districts and even a few countries are offering students free tablets and replacing textbooks with iPads from Apple, according to news reports: IPads Will Outnumber Computers in US Schools in Near Future, South Korea Will Replace All Paper With Tablets in Schools by 2015, New Thai Government Embarks on Free WiFi & Tablets for Schools Program, and Motorola ET1 Enterprise Tablet Debuts in Asia.

Are you ready for the tablet invasion?

26 comments on “Prepare for the Tablet Invasion

  1. AnalyzeThis
    November 2, 2011

    Bolaji, I mostly agree with you and concur that it's inevitable that tablets will be adopted by business: I've been to a restaurant that used an iPad for its wine list, for example. There are applications where use of tablets make sense.

    However, part of the reason I'm not convinced that Apple will be the leading player in the enterprise tablet market is because Apple's overall corporate philosophy doesn't really mesh well with IT departments. Apple is very strict on controlling the experience on their products which is a policy that makes a lot of sense in the consumer market.

    But in enterprise applications, IT wants the control: they don't want Apple to dictate what they can or cannot do with the devices. And they don't want to rely on Apple for security and services.

    Now that being said — in certain applications — this matters a lot less. A law office obviously needs strict controls and high levels of security, whereas that's far less important when you're dealing with something like a restaurant.

    And there are of course cost concerns as well: to use restaurants as an example again, a pad of paper is much cheaper than an iPad. And you won't care if a pad of paper is lost or dropped into the garbage.

    Anyhow, we'll see how the enterprise market shakes out. Too bad RIM blew their chance at gaining an early lead in this space. And I certainly predict Apple won't be lead player in the business tablet space 5 years from now.

  2. DataCrunch
    November 2, 2011

    Many corporations have strict policies as to what can be installed and run at employee’s desktop or laptop computers.  This causes a major headache for IT departments that are used to applying their controls on IT assets.  iPads and other tablets, in which the users seem to download any number of apps without any checks and balances by corporate IT will not go very far in the enterprise.  It’s almost as all the rules go out the window when it comes to iPads, iPhones, and Android devices.  People want to use their tablets for both business and pleasure, so would that mean now people would have to have multiple tablets in the future, those for business and those for pleasure?

  3. _hm
    November 2, 2011

    Tablet have enormous advatages and is quite ubiquitous. Most organizations, schools and homes will employ it. But does it have any other bad side effects? Is all situation has been time tested for Tablets? One must evaluate this for long term reliable services.


  4. Eldredge
    November 3, 2011

    Unauthorized downloads are already an issue for company desktops and laptops. Perhaps someone will develop a password protected download facility that only allows authorized personnel to perfrom the download function, or come up with a corporate library that can provide authroized downloads without additional restrictions.

  5. DataCrunch
    November 3, 2011

    I recently read a report stating that when it comes to schools and education, iPads are the preferred tablet choice with no real competition at this point.  Apple is clearly aggressive in getting their devices in the hands of students, especially at younger ages.  Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that nearly 1,000 K-12 schools have an iPad deployment program in which these schools intend to provide an iPad for each student.

  6. JADEN
    November 3, 2011

    Tablet PC market have huge potential to grow, and the preliminary signs are even looking stronger as its demand has risen at significantly within the short time.

  7. Anne
    November 3, 2011

    As tablet PCs become more prevalent, the relative proportion of laptops sold will gradually decline.  Thus the potential to take a considerable portion of the enterprise market share is feasible, and to gain market share is also noteworthy.  This is not to say that tablets will replace laptops entirely; instead they will add value to the existing technology infrastructure.

  8. Ariella
    November 3, 2011

    @Dave Yes, tablets are getting into schools. I've even heard of programs to obtain them for kindergarteners. 

  9. Susan Fourtané
    November 3, 2011


    What “side effects” do you see in the use of tablets? 

    What kind of “time testing” are you referring? 

    What exactly is what one must evaluable? 

    I would really like to understand what is the “bad” you see about tablets.


  10. stochastic excursion
    November 3, 2011

    iPads' restrictions on third-party software may pose a barrier for their deployment in the enterprise.  The “Wow” factor, though, may lead companies to get over this barrier. 

    Certain companies do use Macs on their networks, and the iPad OS has the Mac OS, which is closely related to Unix, as its core.  The restrictive nature of what s/w can be installed on the device makes it particularly effective against exploits.  Malware attacks have been reported where app's were installed circumventing Apple's authorization framework however.

  11. _hm
    November 3, 2011

    Perhaps quality of work may not be so rich.


  12. _hm
    November 3, 2011

    Perhaps quality of work may not be so rich.


  13. Susan Fourtané
    November 4, 2011


    Could you be more especific? 

    Tablets are not desktop or laptop replacements. They are different devices for different uses and they serve very well depending on the needs of the user. 

    I don't understand what you mean by saying “the quality of work may not be so rich.” How do you think your the quality of your work can change by using a tablet? 

    I would say the quality of your work depends only on you and not on the device you are using, this given that you are using the right device for the type of work you do. 


  14. Susan Fourtané
    November 4, 2011


    Do you have the right link for the tablets in kendergartens? 


  15. Adeniji Kayode
    November 4, 2011

    @Anne, You are right on the fact that sales of Laptops will drastically reduced but i also feel that this might cause a kind of revolution in the world of PC if PC still want to remain relevant to this age

  16. Adeniji Kayode
    November 4, 2011

    @Susan.I agree with you that Tablet and PC are two different devices,my stand still remains that there is going to be decrease in PC users because major users are not even programmers that can,t do without PC, they are people that just want to check mail, do some online transactions and stuffs like that.

    So we are looking at a time when PC will lose complete relevancy to common or light users and this set of people carries the larger percentage use of both devices.

  17. Adeniji Kayode
    November 4, 2011

    @Dave, I,m not surprised at the report you gave.Ipad is kind of more convenient to carry and handle around academic environment when compared to laptops and not to talk of desktop.

    Also I feel Apple is smart enought to target the younger generation because they are likely to quickly adjust to the new innovation(s) than some that have gone so deep in the “old technology” so to say and trying to blend with the new technology.

  18. Adeniji Kayode
    November 4, 2011

    @_hm.There is nothing good that cannot be abused though,It might take years for us to see the negative side effect of it, especially in the moral aspect.But then that is never a reason not to accept the technology.

  19. Susan Fourtané
    November 4, 2011

    Thanks, Ariella! 🙂


  20. Anand
    November 7, 2011

    Many school districts and even a few countries are offering students free tablets and replacing textbooks with iPads from Apple,

    Developing nations like India, which cannot afford to distribute iPad has developed its own tablet called “Aakash”. Aakash is already being distributed to college students for 35$. Though this tablet may not compete with Apple/Samsung but it will definitely  erase digital divide between the rich and the poor.

  21. Anand
    November 7, 2011

    Most organizations, schools and homes will employ it. But does it have any other bad side effects?

    @_hm, very valid point. I guess technology will change the way students learn. For example students will become experts in typing but they will forget how to write. Writing using pen/pencil will become thing of past. No doubts kids will get new ways to learn new things but needs to be seen how this new technolgoy will impact their personality.

  22. Adeniji Kayode
    November 7, 2011

    @anandvy, Do you mean erase or put a thin line the rich and the poor?

  23. _hm
    November 7, 2011

    I also have similar concern. New tools and equipments are good to solve modern problems. But solving problem and learning skills are more important  and not the tools or equipments themselves. Also, sometime teacher and students gives much more stress on these devices and actual learning becomes secondary. That may not be good sign and students looses edge in this competative world.



  24. electronics862
    November 17, 2011

    Tablet PCs are especially great for students, or in a classroom situation. They are also great in meetings. You can quickly write notes and then organize and search your notes later. You can even include audio files, or presentations with your notes..

  25. itguyphil
    November 18, 2011

    Surely, everyone is wanting to have a ipad with them, right?… as it is very handy, portable and highly efficient which includes all the features of education, entertainment and business needs. Even many governments have come forward to provide their students with ipads free of cost. But my wish is, do we have any luck such that the price of the tablets will be lowered, as competition grows, so even an economically average person could be able to afford an iPad or similar device.

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