By Wesley Lynch
The growth of tablets continues to surpass all expectations, throwing the PC industry into disarray and turning the heads of everyone from your three year-old to educationists to corporate buyers across the board.
The iPad is so popular that publishers and other content-rich industries are forced to reposition their wares for it or risk failure. A powerful wave of content ‘applification’ has swept over many industries. Are you ready for it?
In March, research firm Gartner became an unexpected casualty of the iPad’s assault on the market when it was forced to make a drastic downward revision of its prediction for worldwide PC and laptop growth.
The firm now forecasts that these devices will grow 10.9% to 388 million this year, after an earlier projection of 15%. The revised figures are chiefly due to reduced expectations for laptops and netbooks, which have driven PC sales in the last few years, the firm noted. Increasingly, people are turning to tablets.
Not that simple
The assumption has for some time been that iPads and Android tablets are only used for simple tasks like email and Web browsing. This view is now being challenged by market trends – to the point where even very astute market watchers are caught unawares.
Education has for a while been a firm proponent of tablets. The iPad as teaching medium makes as much sense for textbook publishers as for education departments and families, with apps and content repositories making it an ideal single portal to content and learning.
Entertainment is another no-brainer: thanks to the possibility to embed multimedia such as video in magazines, the tablet experience is ultra-immersive, engaging and interactive. Further enriched by a rich application ecosystem, media convergence and personalisation, tablets are great for watching video, gaming, playing music and more.
In addition, industries that depend heavily on content can all benefit from the very immersive tablet experience. From travel and leisure companies to consulting firms and e-commerce store fronts – the list is virtually endless.
But the most serious underestimation of the iPad might be missing its allure for general industry. It is not just a replacement for entry-level laptops and netbooks, and doesn’t only appeal to some industries: The iPad is becoming a corporate workhorse.
Everybody wants in
One can be forgiven for missing a trick; the tablet phenomenon is fast-paced and has happened seemingly overnight.
Everybody wants in. Hardware manufacturers, operating system vendors and app developers are all jockeying for position. Publishers, content-rich industries and generic corporates are regrouping for its arrival.
Even banks are getting in on the act, with FNB selling 10 000 devices per month.
With a substantial decrease in the price of the iPad 2 when the iPad3 was launched, things will only get hotter. And at the low end of the market, hardware manufacturers worldwide are devoting resources to making tablets accessible to the masses. The uptake curve will resemble, if not outperform, that of mobile phones.
Such a modern-day phenomenon is clearly an opportunity second to none. Content-rich industries (and who isn’t, with the advent of so much digital and social and mobile media today?) stand to benefit the most from app-lifying their content.