Tablets, which first rose to prominence at the start of this decade, have now firmly established themselves as a mainstream consumer device. Tablets are positioned as a device that sits in-between smartphones and laptops, providing better mobility whilst providing better content consumption and creation capabilities than smartphones due to its larger real estate.
Today, Forrester estimates that a total of 186 million tablets are in use globally, with 88% of these being used by end-consumers. However, Lenovo believes that come 2014, tablets will see a huge growth spurt, especially in the enterprise space. Forrester expects the commercial segment to expand to a fifth of the tablet market by 2017 as companies are increasingly picking up tablets for various use cases, such as equipping their mobile sales force, retail employees, field operations staff and basic productivity purposes for employees to stay connected and augment their productivity.
Aside from general commercial usage in offices and at points-of-sale, we believe that tablets will also find themselves being used in select key verticals such as education, healthcare & F&B. For example, the University of Sydney in Australia, has introduced tablet devices like the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 for academic staff and college students to use on campus. In the healthcare space, the Epocrates mobile trends report found that more than half of doctors, and two in five nurse practitioners and physician assistants are using tablets on a daily basis for EHR management and other clinical documentation, with this number expected to climb to almost 90% by 2014.
Why is this happening? Firstly, tablets have successfully carved out a strong niche of their own, differentiating themselves strongly against smartphones and PCs. Coupled with wider acceptance of BYOD by companies, more and more consumers (21 percent of respondents from the above-mentioned Forrester study) are bringing their tablets to the workplace and finding that they improve productivity, which leads to wider acceptance of tablets as an enterprise device. With all the discussion around raising productivity in Singapore, portable smart devices like tablets could very well offer that remedy to the question - they are larger and easier to work on vis-à-vis smartphones yet nimbler and more agile than PCs which means that on-the-go productivity isn't affected.
At the same time, the volume of tablet applications that focus on productivity, content creation / consumption and communications has increased dramatically. The tablet started off primarily as a gaming device, but fast-forward to today and you will see dozens of apps that are useful in a commercial setting - which is also one of the drivers of BYOD tablets.
The final driver is cost, which is in part influenced by innovation and variety. With multiple manufacturers coming into the tablet space, a variety of products in have flooded the market, spanning multiple price bands. These are giving users the flexibility of choice to select a device that meets their needs and wallet. Tablets these days no longer just come in a slate form factor, but have evolved in terms of design to meet varying use cases. The richness of choice creates more avenues for tablet ownership, be it for commercial or consumer use.
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