Will Tablets Eventually Kill Off Laptops?
A Reuters article mentioned that Intel has been slow to adapt its processors for smartphones and tablets. Gartner says worldwide PC shipments declined 6.9 percent in Q4 2013. At the same time, the year-on-year growth rate for tablets is significantly higher. Should these trends lead us to believe that tablets will kill off laptops?
Bobbi Dangerfield, Dell's vice president of commercial sales operation, said in a recent interview, "The tablet is great if you're trying to do a little email or you want to read something or whatever. But if you've got real work to do, then they're still not a substitute for the PC."
An excerpt in the book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution says, "Laptops were originally designed for heavy office work, such as writing, crafting presentations, or financial analysis with spreadsheets."
The communication needs of end users have evolved dramatically in recent years. The use of laptops went beyond the proverbial heavy work to emails, social media, reading e-books, watching TV, listening to music, playing games, etc. This evolution radically changed the typical use cases of laptops.
Even with their growing popularity, tablets cannot completely kill off laptops—yet. This means that people still see value in using laptops. Some of the reasons that people still prefer to use laptops include availability of the physical keyboard, hardware extendibility, and a larger screen. Tablets offer benefits such as portability, touchscreen awesomeness, and a better battery life than laptops.
The recent trend in cloud computing is also influencing the user's device preference. Among other things, with the higher processing power needed for applications like gaming and high data storage being abstracted into the cloud, it really makes a compelling case for having a thinner device for most of the basic usage.
The second trend is that the world is observing new types of devices—often referred to as hybrids—that merge the best of both tablets and laptops.
Dangerfield provided an additional perspective in her interview saying, "I think the bigger question is as more Millennials enter the work force—I look at my own kids and they're doing stuff on their smartphones that I would need my computer to do. As you get this demographic change in the work force, different types of mobility devices like smartphones and tablets will take a bigger share."
The growing enterprise trend of bring-your-own-device, which allows employees to bring their self-owned devices to use for office work, also adds more flexibility and influences the choice.
All these facts leave the debate about the preferred choice of device quite open. The use and personal preference will largely drive adoption in the future. Tablets are clearly ahead in the game—much as PCs overtook mainframes in the 1980s. Whether tablets will kill off laptops remains to be seen.