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Confused over what tablet to buy? Join the crowd

Matt Hamblen | March 27, 2014
As tablet sales slow, marketing focus moves beyond early adopters and techies

Kantar on Wednesday released the results of a survey of U.S. consumers conducted in the fourth quarter of 2013 which found that 34% of respondents were unsure if they would buy a tablet in the next year, while another 53% said they definitely wouldn't buy a tablet.

Of those who were unsure, 67% said they know very little about tablets. Also, 47% said the price of tablets is too high and 16% said they were unsure about not having a physical keyboard.

The average amount spent on a tablet in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2013 was $300, down from $326 a year earlier. Milanesi said that for mainstream consumers, "tablets are still a nice to have and not a must have." While the Kantar survey addressed consumers, Milanesi said the same findings can be applied to workers who buy tablets to potentially use both at home and at work and can help inform IT managers making tablet recommendations for schools, companies or other organizations.

"There are a lot of tablet choices out there, affecting consumers as well as IT," she said. "But people are looking at the size of a tablet and not necessarily at its overall usability." For instance, it might be more important to have a touchscreen-only tablet that costs less if the user is primarily a child. A large screen with a virtual keyboard, on the other hand, will matter more for work productivity in many jobs.

Of the 53% who don't plan to buy a tablet in the next year, fully 72% said they were happy with their current laptop or PC, while 25% said tablets were too expensive and 20% wanted a physical keyboard.

That 20% figure for those wanting a physical keyboard was lower than many might expect, Kantar said, since not having a keyboard is generally considered a major factor for why people reject tablets.

But Milanesi argued that the virtual keyboard can be enough for serious work tasks.

"Even for people that use a tablet a lot for serious work — say, to write an essay — they might say they need to go back to a physical keyboard, but the real question is if the tablet has enough screen real estate to see the keyboard and the content being worked on," she said. "So it's not just physical keyboard or virtual, but how much real estate the virtual keyboard gets."

 

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