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How the tablet is becoming the computer no 1

Tablets has become so much a part of our lives that from notebooks to desktops and even TVs now want to look like this popular device.

Nandagopal Rajan | July 25, 2013 | Updated 21:00 IST

Nandagopal Rajan
Nandagopal Rajan
The writing is on the wall and it is very clear: tablets are slowly, but surely, becoming the preferred computing device of this decade. It has already started outselling PCs in most markets and is nipping at the laptop sales in others.

A report released by research firm Canalys this June forecasts that tablets will account for 37 per cent of the entire PC market at 182.5 million units and be responsible for most of its 7 per cent growth in 2013. But more starting is the forecast, that of the 713.8 million PCs that will ship worldwide in 2017, 64 per cent will be tablets with notebooks accounting for just 25 per cent.

Thanks to the advent of cheap tablets, this form factor has found many takers in India. According to a report released by the Manufacturers' Association of Information Technology this week, tablet PC sales grew a staggering 424 per cent from 0.36 million in 2011-12 to 1.90 million in 2012-2013. If the present trends and the popularity of the seven-inch tablets is any indication, the sales figures for the current year will be much more than this.

In fact, the "value conscious" Indian buyer has been pushing the demand for the seven-inch tablet - or phablet if that is what you prefer - with the added facility of calling. Globally, tablet sizes are consolidating around the seven-inch mark with the larger sizes now becoming a niche rather than the standard. But Indian customers seem to think that this size is good enough to be used as a phone, despite the awkward grip. No wonder then that most tablets manufacturers now have a phone version of their seven-inch tablet available in this market.

Interestingly, Google on Wednesday announced the launch of its new Nexus 7 tablet, the first to run its new Android 4.3 version. The specifications of the new Nexus, especially its high-resolution screen could prompt Apple to push its retina display to the iPad Mini. But it seems Apple fears this could hurt the sales of the original 10-inch iPad even more. Anyway, the Nexus is much cheaper than the iPad Mini.

But one thing that stood out during the presentation of Sundar Pichai, SVP, Android, Chrome & Apps, is the announcement that over 70 million Android tablets would be activated by the end of 2013, up from 10 million in 2012. That means Android is growing faster that Apple's iPad. For the record, iPad activations crossed 100 million almost a year back and should be well over 130 million now despite the recent fall in sales. In Apple's favour is the fact that it only manufactures iOS tablets, while Android has too many OEMs to count. So even now Apple accounts for 40 per cent of all tablet sales, with nearest competitor Samsung managing just about 18 per cent as per IDC.

Nevertheless, this is stupendous success for a product range that is just over three years old. The tablet computer has become so much a part of our lives that everything from notebooks to desktops and even televisions now want to look like this popular device.

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