September 25, 2012

Tablets Killed the PC Star

It seems that Tablets are taking over. Soon more people will be using tablets than Desktops or Laptops... combined.

So, yeah - Bill Gates was right. He predicted the tablet takeover almost a full decade before the iPad came to be. He just kinda assumed Microsoft would be making the operating system.

What I'm going to show below is an infographic about the explosive uptake of tablet technology since the introduction of the iPad. The graphic has several issues. The main one being that it thinks that the tablet industry started with the iPad, and then it seems to use the term "tablet" and "iPad" interchangeably.

Tablets existed long before the iPad came out in 2010. Windows XP had a "Tablet Edition" came out as far back as 2002. Even as far back as 1991! - Microsoft had a "Windows for Pen Computing" add-on for Windows 3.1. Microsoft also spearheaded the UMPC movement which were handheld touchscreen usually pocketable devices with WiFi - very much like an overpowered smartphone. PDAs (PalmPilots) could also be included in this. And there were a number of Linux-based tablets as well, (Nokia's N-Series Internet Tablets, the N770, N800, N810, etc. as an example). Even Apple had the Newton series of devices.

So the tablet penetration was not an 18-month process as depicted in the graphic below. It was a revolutionary moment in an evolutionary movement, the process which, of course, included "pump priming" by other devices like the smartphone, and the iPhone in particular, (the iPod Touch was pretty much an iPad in miniature and was available since 2007). Even the short-lived "Netbook" movement fed into the felt-need of an in-between device that was more portable but less powerful than a smartphone and more powerful and with more screenspace than a smartphone. (Steve Jobs even referenced this in the introduction of the iPad.) Even game systems like the Nintendo DS could be considered a form of tablet computing, since it was a portable, battery powered device with a touchscreen interface and WiFi (they sold an Opera-based web browser cartridge, and homebrew applications had it surfing the web as well.)

Obviously, the introduction of iPad did spark a huge revolution in the industry - the main feature being brought to the table and making tablets incredibly more user-friendly was the capacitive multi-touch screens and a simple to use, app-based operating system.

But it's not just the "no other technology" graph - it's also the "iPad Sales started..." graph as well. The title says iPad, but the chart says tablets. The iPad may be the top selling brand of tablet, but it does not make up even the majority of tablet sales. I suspect, since on graphic says iPad sales since launch are only 84 million, and the "Sales started" graph shows sales of over 100 million this year alone, it actually does represent tablet sales as a whole - not just iPad sales.

Again, I don't want to take away from the dramatic impact that the iPad has had on the tablet industry, or technology as a whole - but it did not start the tablet industry, nor does it make up the majority of it - much less its entirety. Seems like a small distinction, but it really isn't.

That all said - here is the infographic from

 Tablet Infographic

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1 comment:

JAmes said...

A bit misleading and attempting to confuse the reader indeed. Spot on.