The rise and fall of the tablet PC

Almighty iPad

The tablet PC, much to my disapproval, has rocketed to the heart of the consumer market in recent years. The launch of Apple’s iPad, back in 2010, was an enormous success; it sold more than 300,000 units on its first day of release and went on to sell more than 14.8 million worldwide over the course of 2010.

The success of the iPad has led to a somewhat predictable tablet arms race from mobile and computing companies alike. A few of the more notable examples are the Samsung Galaxy tablets, Motorola’s Xoom and the Blackberry Playbook. There are others, good and bad, but there is little doubt that thanks to Apple’s iPad the tablet has been one of the most prominent features in personal technology in the past two years.

However, the tablet PCs popularity has not been without its victims, the laptop market has suffered. For example, Acer dropped from the #2 spot in the personal computer vendor tables to #4… Catastrophe! Sarcasm aside, competition breeds innovation, and if COMPUTEX TAIPEI, the second largest computer exhibition in the world, is anything to go by the humble laptop might be about to make an exciting comeback.

Team laptop

Spearheading the hopes for team laptop are the ‘ultrabooks’ or ‘ultrathins’ if you want to believe AMD, which along with really innovative new designs from the likes of Acer and Asus are looking to check the popularity of the tablet PC.

asus-taichi1
Instead of rambling on about COMPUTEX I will just list some of its more exciting highlights in relation to laptops:

  • A hybrid laptop with two screens one which uses the Android operating system when detached
  • Detachable and rotatable screens
  • Laptops with a mobile phone inspired ‘poison pill’ which can kill you laptop remotely if it is stolen or lost
  • Gesture and voice commands

In my opinion things look pretty good for the laptop, but this is not the only problem for the tablet. The next generation of mobile phones may be their final undoing. These behemoths, like the Samsung Galaxy s3 and the LG Optimus 4X HD, are not only big but run Quad core processors. They have the processing power and functionality of a tablet and all the benefits of being mobile phones.

lg-optimus-4x-hd1

So, is this the end for the tablet?

In my opinion, yes. Where the tablet used to have a niche in the market, between smart phones and laptops, this niche is closing in around them; phones are getting bigger, laptops smaller. However, being an optimist I like to think the tablet PCs best features won’t be going anywhere and it’s likely we will see them reincarnated in the next generation of smart phones and ultrabooks.

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