The last few weeks have been big weeks for tablets. On October 25th, both Nokia and Apple announced new tablets to compete for the holiday sales. The news about the new iPAD Air is covered well here and the new Nokia 2520 tablet is here. These are two great additions to the ever increasing Samsung Note lineup, Microsoft Surface, Google Nexus and Amazon Kindle Fire HDX devices. On Friday, November 1, Apple’s new iPad Air went on sales and according to some reports, had the biggest weekend for Apple yet. So consumers will have a lot to choose from when it comes to tablets, finally. But tablet hardware is commoditizing, where parity is almost, but not quite there amongst the different vendors. Mentioned in a previous post, as this happens, the real interest is on the apps these devices run. So the real war isn’t just the hardware, it will be fought on many software (UE, UI, apps) fronts. One front is on which document editing system to use.
As tablets become more common, enterprise users will have more increasing demands for more enterprise application support. More complex uses like document creation and editing are on the rise. Last year, Microsoft bundled in its Office Suite on its tablets. Its hope was that having the most successful office document products would drive users to adopt its hardware. That hasn’t happened yet. Apple announced, in September this year, that for new devices, it would bundle in its iWork apps. This was mostly driven by Google giving away QuickOffice for free on tablets. Apple is trying to stave off Microsoft as it plans to release Office for iPads, most likely next year. Much of this is driven by the fact that tablet sales are outpacing PCs and are being used for more document creation.
According to Gartner in a report released last week, world-wide shipments of traditional PCs (desk-based and notebook) are forecast to total 303 million units in 2013, an 11.2% decline from 2012, and the PC market, including ultramobiles, is forecast to decline 8.4% in 2013. Mobile-phone shipments are projected to grow 3.7%, with volume of more than 1.8 billion units, with tablet shipments expected to grow 53.4 percent in 2013, reaching 184 million units. But this doesn’t tell the whole story. PC sales are declining, in households that used to have two or three machines. In households, tablets are definitely replacing those PCs. But there is little evidence to suggest the same in enterprises. Legacy applications require the continued use of PCs and laptops in businesses where tablets can’t yet support those applications. Most mobile business users have two, if not three mobile devices (laptop, smartphone and tablet), with very few consolidating their devices. With more complex business applications, data creation hasn’t yet migrated to tablets, even with the plethora of editing and document tools. The release of Microsoft Office for iPads, won’t change this at all.
Tablets are great for consuming all types of content, even performing editing or annotating, which is where most of these document tools are being used. But content creation, though growing on tablets, is still primarily done on PCs and laptops today. This will continue to happen for the next few years until better mobile apps are designed for content creation. Be prepared for that changeover, it will come, but isn’t happening yet.