Tablets vs. PCs- Will Tablets Take Over?

According to a new report from the International Data Corporation Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker, tablet shipments are expected to grow 58.7% year over year and reach nearly 230 million units in 2013, up from 144.5 million units last year. They are predicting that IDC tablet shipments will exceed those of portable PCs this year, given the PC market is expected to see negative growth for the second year in a row. By 2015, tablets will have more market share than the entire traditional PC market.

So what does this mean? Are tablets taking over the PC market?

We know the world is getting increasingly mobile. 31% of Americans own a tablet computer, 45% have a smartphone and according to some reports, more people own a cell phone worldwide than a tooth brush. Obviously for personal use, tablets are becoming (if not already) the more popular choice. They are small, sleek, easy to transport, and ideal for doing simple tasks like checking Facebook or scanning Twitter for news updates. For consumers, security is not as big of a concern as it is for organizations with high-priority information, so many are shelving their PCs for tablets. In addition to personal use, many people also believe mobile devices help them do their job better.

According to a recent Mobile Work Exchange Report, 95% federal government employees surveyed said access to mobile devices improved their work and 33% believe customer service has improved. For many people work doesn’t end at 5PM. This means they are doing a lot of their work outside the office and on the go. For them, the more they can do on one device, without having to transfer content, the better.

There are a lot of great examples of government agencies using tablets, from Border Patrol agents using tablets to view past patterns of illegal activity to the U.S. Air Force using tablets instead of creating loads of paperwork. In addition to employee satisfaction, agencies are seeing several benefits such as:

  • More productive and effective workforce
  • Employees are always connected, especially those that are away from the office often
  • More responsive/faster service delivery to constituents
  • Enables telework/makes it easier
  • Increased engagement with citizens

To meet the demands of employees looking to work on any device, government agencies are adopting BYOD/mobile policies to ensure security and regulate the process of using other devices. In the same mobile survey, 52% of respondents said their agency has matured its mobile IT strategy over the last year (since the announcement of the Digital Government Strategy). As agencies adopt these policies their number one concern is security. Other concerns include:

  • Stolen devices
  • Data Leakage from misplaced devices
  • Upfront costs
  • Malware and malicious attacks
  • Shared devices and passwords
  • Unstable Wi-Fi/network access

Recently, OMB sent agencies instructions for securing government-owned commercial tablets and smartphones. The guidelines are part of the Digital Government Strategy, which aims to not only have agencies adopt mobile technology, but do so in a streamlined and consistent manner. This is a positive sign that government is getting serious about mobile technology and if that is the case, tablets could take over the PC market.

Before that happens, a few things need to happen:

  • App sophistication. While they are improving everyday, people still love their Microsoft Office.
  • Security- Tablets will need to be more secure and protected from malware.
  • Policies/training- Agencies will need to develop specific BYOD/mobile policies, brand it to the entire organization and train employees for security issues.
  • Functionality- People are used to their PCs in terms of keyboards, screen size etc. Some tablets are being developed, like the HP Elite Pad, with PC like functionality

Even when these things do happen, people may still not want to forgo their PC for their tablet. Instead, they may have both.

What do you think? Will Tablets ever take over the PC market?

For more information be sure to check out the Mobile in Government Resources Page.

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David B. Grinberg

Yes, Amy, tablets — and mobile devices — will definitely over take the PC market. PCs are dinosaurs fast approaching extinction. It’s just a matter of when, not if.

Remember those colossal cell phones that first came on the market way back when? Well, where are they now? Moreover, where are most cell phones for that matter? In the dustbin of history as smartphone use becomes more rampant. This is a no-brainer, at least IMO.

Henry Brown

Would offer that both of them (PC and Tablets) have a place in the “marketplace”… Not surprised that the limited functionality of the Tablet is catching on in the enterprise. Ever since the PC, at least since ~1983, IT people have been at least somewhat opposed to giving “power to the masses”.

When the “first” useful tablet was introduced in 2000 by Microsoft, generally speaking, it failed because of its lack of user friendliness and relatively high cost. It wasn’t until 10 years later that Apple introduced the iPad, which thanks to wireless phone companies subsidizing the cost and Apple/Steve Jobs somewhat of a brilliant advertising campaign the iPad/Tablet began to catch on with the masses, The enterprise people thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread because the iPad places restrictions on the owner to install software. especially after Apple released to the enterprise people the ability to manage software installations and manage the security

Smart phones have followed a similar development path, although I doubt very seriously that there will ever be a “smart phone” to compete with the power of either the tablet or PC

Suspect that there is a group of enterprise users who will be totally satisfied with the tablet’s access to email and social networking sites, but I would offer that is a relatively small group, basically those users who didn’t need a PC to increase their productivity. The tablet user group will continue to grow as more practical functions are ported to the tablet. What I can see in my rather fuzzy crystal ball is the typical enterprise user will possess all 3 pieces of equipment, and depending on their job will utilize one particular piece of equipment.

Henry Brown

Small aside, a Chinese company is/has developed a software package that is able to run on the Android platform that apparently emulates Office rather well. The name of the software is KingSoft Office