Photo by Yutaka Tsutano
In 2010 Apple introduced the first iPad and basically created a new segment of devices – tablets. iPad wasn’t a full PC replacement (and still isn’t) but was considered a big step towards the real post-PC era. It wasn’t unreasonable to think that at some point in the near future iPad (and possibly similar competing products) would replace PCs for most purposes, except maybe some very specific areas. That said, to this day it’s pretty much inconceivable for someone who ever really needed a PC to be able to get by without one. Starting with school kids, to students, to “knowledge workers” its either impossible or, at the very least, less productive to use a tablet instead of a PC.
Android device manufacturers tried to compete with Apple on the similar 10” field and pretty much failed. Then they moved down to the 7” form factor and things started taking of for Android tablets. 7” tablets don’t have an ambition to replace PCs. They know their niche as a portable universal consumption devices and are fine with it. It’s possible to imagine doing actual work on a 10” device, but 7” is definitely out of the question. Steve Jobs famously dismissed 7 inch tablets as dead on arrival, but in 2012 Apple caved in and released iPad Mini. All the people I know personally and virtually who owned a big iPad and bought an iPad mini love the little one and basically stopped using the 10” tablet.
People love their 7-8” tablets and I take it as vote for placing tablets in a special separate niche (like mp3 players) and abandoning the ambition of dethroning PCs as the most important computing devices. And larger phones are pushing the tablet category from the bottom with 5”+ phones making 7” tablets irrelevant for their owners.
As of today I think there are 3 categories of potential tablet users:
- people who never needed PCs (mostly elderly people) or who don’t need a PC yet (small kids)
- people who actively dislike large smartphones
- people with first-world-problems (aka excess money)
Everyone else is pretty much set with a large-enough smartphone and a PC. Agree/disagree?