Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2015 Contents A28
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Not long ago, we were assured
the iPad and its ilk were destined
to dominate our everyday lives.
"Tablets will rule the future,"
one analyst said three years ago,
forecasting sales would swell to
375 million in 2016.
Nobody is that bullish anymore.
The tablet sector recently suf-
fered its first drop, according to
tech consultancy Canalys---down
12 per cent over the final three
months of 2014 compared with
the same period the previous year.
Apple, the market leader, sold
15 per cent fewer iPads over 2014
as a whole compared with 2013.
Barcelona s Mobile World Con-
gress (MWC) is attempting to rein-
vigorate interest this week---a Sony
leak indicates its will unveil a model
with "industry-leading battery
But research house Gartner is
now saying the sector s growth
will be limited to 259 million sales
next year, meaning PCs will con-
tinue to be more popular.
One suggestion is that the
experts got carried away with the
early rush to the tills.
"The initial growth that got peo-
ple excited was inflated by the fact
that early-adopters adopted faster
Are tablets falling out of favour?
than usual," Carolina Milanesi, chief
of research at KWP Comtech tells the
"In other words, the initial sales
curve was steeper than that for smart-
phones, and this led to the idea that
tablets would do much better than they
"What happened, though, was that
it became apparent that the value
proposition to your average Joe on the
street wasn t clear. People asked, Why
do I need to get this when my phone
already does a lot of the same things? "
For those that did buy, and love run-
ning apps on a larger screen, there may
also be little pressure to upgrade.
"We re getting bigger and bigger
phones---the iPhone 6 Plus is big, the
latest Samsung handsets are big---so
there s less differentiation between the
two categories," says Michael O Hara,
from the GSM Association, which hosts
"And operators offer less subsidies
for tablets [because most are bought
without a Sim card], so that s also prob-
ably a factor in the refresh cycle."
By spreading the cost of a new hand-
set across the lifetime of a contract,
operators not only make it seem rel-
atively cheap to switch to a new smart-
phone, they also protect the profit mar-
gins of top-end mobiles.
By contrast, Android-device man-
ufacturers, in particular, have felt the
need to make the prices of their tablets
This becomes apparent if you try to
buy the devices from them off-con-
All of which gives the device makers
an added incentive to focus their mar-
keting spend on their phones rather
than their tablets.
Furthermore, many of the things that
drive consumers to buy new phones---
better cameras, built-in footstep track-
ers, fingerprint sensors, touch-and-
pay facilities and extended battery life
---don t have the same appeal if offered
on tablets, since the bigger devices are
less likely to be used outdoors.
Many tablet owners spend most of
their time on tablets watching videos,
visiting Web sites, playing games and
checking social-media accounts rather
than creating complex documents
And despite the efforts of Microsoft,
Apple and Google to convince us that
their latest models can be used to make
complex spreadsheets, videos, music
and more, many want to use them to
consume media rather than create it.
"If you just want to read stuff and
watch Netflix on your tablet at home,
some of the early tablets are just as
good as the latest devices," says Stuart
Miles, founder of the gadget review
"If you are intrigued by a tablet,
you ve probably already bought one,
so there really needs to be a paradigm
shift, a change in what it offers you,
to convince you to upgrade."
That s not to say innovation is limited
to making tablets thinner.
Lenovo recently unveiled the Yoga
Tablet 2 Pro, which features a built-in
projector and subwoofer.
The pitch is that this could be useful
for presentations and letting groups
watch movies together, although
reviewers suggest the low resolution
and brightness of the projector limits
Perhaps more intriguing is the fact
that the Yoga s screen is 13.3 inches---
much bigger than the norm.
Microsoft has also gone large with
its 12-inch Windows-powered Surface
Pro 3, Samsung has introduced a 12.2-
inch tablet and there are rumours Apple
is working on a similarly proportioned
When it comes to tablets, Milanesi
thinks size will count if consumers,
schools and businesses are to consider
"If you are working with productivity
apps, like Office, having a bigger screen
helps," she says.
"Plus, if you don t want to use an
external keyboard, having a larger screen
gives you more real estate so less of it
is covered when you type.
"It also helps with multitasking---
having your Twitter feed or e-mail on
one side and being able to write a doc-
ument on the other side, or students
having a text book on one side and
writing on the other---it s just more
However, she notes, the shift also
makes tablets considerably less com-
fortable to carry around.
Tim Coulling, an analyst at Canalys,
suggests IBM s tie-up with Apple to
create business-focused apps also points
the way towards tablets being used
more commonly in the workplace.
"There are a lot of job functions
where tablets make perfect sense---for
service workers out in the field, for
example, or point-of-sale devices in
shops," he says.
The release of Windows 10 later this
year may also drive demand. But,
Coulling adds, the days of rapid growth
may be over.
"The tablet market isn t going to
crash, but we re reaching a plateau now
that it s become saturated," he says.
Initial sales of tablets were brisk, but recent demand for the computers
has not met expectations.
Worldwide tablet sales
2010: 17.6 million
2011: 59.8 million
2012: 124.8 million
2013: 216.3 million
2014: 216.1 million
2015: 233.4 million (forecast)
2016: 259.0 million (forecast)
Apple's iPads are the bestselling
Between April 3, 2010, when the
original went on sale, and
December 27, 2014, the end of the
Apple's last financial quarter, the
US company sold 258 million
iPads and more than 615 million
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