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Tablets Become Epicenter for Convergence

EL SEGUNDO, CA — After decades of discussion, the convergence of consumer, computer and communications is finally becoming a reality with the arrival of Apple Inc.’s iPad and competing tablets, a development that will have massive implications for the technology world, spurring competition not only among varying types of products—but among entire industries, according to the market research firm iSuppli, now part of IHS Inc. (NYSE: IHS).

“The definition of convergence has changed over time, with the latest version describing it as voice, video and data services being delivered to the home vis-à-vis broadband networks and the new services that would result from this confluence,” said William Kidd, director and principal analyst, financial services for iSuppli. “While that trend still exists, the convergence of consumer electronics devices and industries are now coming together at a fast pace, with the tablet form factor serving a tangible representation of that convergence, since it is part smart phone and part notebook.” However, the implications of the convergence in consumer electronics span well beyond tablets.

The rise of the tablet parallels the growing importance of the mobile operating system (OS) in a large number of consumer electronics devices where previously there was no OS—or the OS wasn't a factor, Kidd added. Because of this, it's a time of great risk and opportunity for all the players across the electronics value chain. This is why so many technology firms seem to be rushing to deliver—or to become a key supplier to—a next generation tablet, smart phone or both, like the iPad/iPhone.

At the same time, these companies also are attempting to keep their design options somewhat open, because it is still so early in this product's life cycle.

“Companies in the electronics value chain increasingly must face the reality that the rise of the mobile OS means distinct product categories now are blurring together,” Kidd said. “For example, note the similarity both in external functionality and internal electronics between Apple's tablet, smart phone, MP3 player and set top box product lines. Not only do they run the same OS, but all these Apple devices are internally similar, plus or minus a screen and touch interface. Industries likely to face the impact of convergence through the proliferation of mobile OSes include televisions, cell phones and notebook PCs.”

Going mobile
Mobile OSes will proliferate because of their range of benefits to technology providers and users.

These OSes provide a framework for consumers to cheaply and effortlessly create custom use cases for devices by using apps that greatly exceed the utility of an Internet browser alone. For developers, mobile OSes allow the creation and monetization of apps. Using mobile OSes, content providers to distribute their wares and adds another convenient option for consumers to access content. Finally, mobile OSes enable interconnectivity between connected devices, and thus generate even more new use cases.

iSuppli believes televisions likely represents the next important catalyst in this evolution toward a broader and more unifying consumers platform that encompasses significantly more devices. Despite challenges and past failures in this area, iSuppli expects mobile operating system providers will get the formula right and transition televisions into a new paradigm.

Over the long term, tablets are likely to reshape the computer market as well.

Consumption versus creation
iSuppli’s current outlook for tablet shipments foresees that these devices will remain content consumption devices, similar to the iPad. However, growth in the tablet segment starting in 2012 could be much higher than now anticipated as these devices take on the kind content creation capabilities now offered by notebook and netbook PCs.

The transformation of tablets into media creation devices would require the development of OSes that are more evolved that Apple’s iOS is today. Even with Microsoft’s stumbles to date in tablets, iSuppli believes that Microsoft will figure out how to design a functional tablet operating system. Apple also is likely to determine how to evolve iOS and an iPad into a creation platform that is 100 percent compatible with the Widows-dominated PC universe. Obviously, Apple could combine iOS and Mac OS at some point, which iSuppli believes is logical as well.

For a detailed analysis on the impact of the mobile OS, see Kidd’s report entitled: Tablets: Epicenter for the Convergence of Smart Phones and PCs at:

iSuppli

6 comments on “Tablets Become Epicenter for Convergence

  1. elctrnx_lyf
    December 14, 2010

    I will consider goggle has enough potential to impact his change. Their recently proposed chrome net book is actually built to serve the need of the hour. These net books which are in trial phase are actually provided only to t he eligible users to try them and provide feedback to Google on the features. This will have a chrome browser and provides many cloud applications to actually access all these application just by using the browser over the Internet connection.

  2. jbond
    December 15, 2010

    Do you know when they will be sending out the trials? I am curious to see how soon we can get some feedback on these.

    I have my doubts about them.

  3. saranyatil
    December 30, 2010

    exactly cloud computing will do miracles with internet based computing it can link to all the service providers, it will definitely become the showstopper.

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    December 31, 2010

    With the broad band internet and Chrome OS , you don't need a convetional PC in your home , your TV would be able to handle all that functionality and with its larger display it will be much more acceptable to the older generation who cannot twiddle their fingures on those smart phones and  watch comfortably their miniature displays. With the TV remote in your hand even an old person or a physically challenged person will able to use  the TV for entertainment, infotainment,  appliance control ,  communications and home security.

  5. maou_villaflores
    December 31, 2010

    Yes you are right Prabakhar…but for people who are always on the go they need a device such laptops and tablets to carry anywhere they go.

  6. Backorder
    December 31, 2010

    You raise an important point. TV vs portable devices as the point of convergence. Agreed that the older generation would find it easier to embrace the TV as against the tablets, but growth will be driven by young population wanting personal devices as against TVs which have a more traditional market. Once you have two or three such devices in every home, convergence in TVs would become redundant in my opinion, if not the entire concept of TV!

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