Recently we conducted a survey of small businesses to understand the adoption and cannibalization of traditional PC market by iPads and thereby Tablet PCs. Keeping aside the survey results for another time, a different blog and a report – our analysts came up with a lively discussion and two opposing views.
The debate started with the topic of Versatility: Multi role of PCs VS single role of Tablet PCs. However, Tablets are gaining docking stations and full keyboards and other aspects such as cameras will find their way in as a result of natural evolution of tablets.
For PC Cannibalization View
What will drive Tablets is the following:
- Longer battery life
- Shift to web based apps (no client download requirements)
- Cost in terms of power consumption
- Windows for Tablets
- Decreasing cost of flash storage
What will hold Tablets back:
- Manageability, tracking
- Corporate level security
Cannibalization should be discussed and thought of within the context of time. It will be significant in about 3-5 years. What it won’t cannibalize is the smart phone market. The problem this is going to cause is what do we call a notebook and what do we call a tablet. Apple has already announced that their notebooks going forward will resemble the new Macbook Air which will have access to the newly announced Mac AppStore and have access to the same apps that are available for iOS. Windows on ARM also means that previously Tablet specific apps will be available on traditional notebook form factors.
What we are seeing now is true convergence with the devices providing different user experiences depending upon whether they are used in a mobile context or not. One area where I do not see tablets replacing PCs is in software development.
If Tablet PCs are given a keyboard, they then start to function like a notebook. If we look ahead, Cisco Cius, Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Avaya are not your traditional PC vendors. But more and more vendors are entering the fray and there is no stopping here. The degree of PC cannibalization will be driven by the strengths and interests of the following:
- Suppliers: some processor manufacturer will be interested to have the Tablet market grow
- New Entrants: data networking, phone companies, operators for 3/4G traffic utilization
- Substitute: apps, cloud, input VS consumption
- Customers: consumers appeal, businesses security
Cannibalization to some degree will take place and perhaps the functional substitution area is one we need to look at to determine probable size – i.e. what current functions done by PCs can be substituted by tablet PCs?