Why do people by tablets?

27. 04. 2011.

In February 2010, when the first iPad appeared, most users rightfully asked themselves “Why should I buy a tablet?” A year later, as the iPad 2 debuts in Hungary, the question is more pressing than ever. Global tablet sales are expected to be the same order of magnitude as sales of netbooks, which turned the mobile PC market of the past few years upside down. While 2010 remains memorable as the year of market entry,  tablets will likely become widespread in Hungary this year, predicts the GKIeNET–T-Mobile Report on the Internet Economy.In the past year many people outside the usual circle of gadget-savvy customers asked themselves this question, and 17 million of them decided to buy a tablet, according to IDC’s March report assessing last year’s worldwide sales of tablets. Growth is dynamic: while 2 million units were sold in the first quarter, this number exceeded 10 million in the fourth quarter. What is clear by now, however, is that the netbook market will not be eliminated, but it will be somewhat repositioned at the low end of the laptop market.

Content creation vs. content consumption

Based on their usage patterns, users can be classified as content generators or content consumers. It is easy to see that (among mobile devices) laptops and notebooks are more suitable for content generation than the currently available tablets, whose operating systems are rooted in mobile platforms. However, an American survey also reveals that the average user spends only about 25% of the day creating content, while the remaining 75% of the day is spent consuming content: browsing, watching videos and movies, reading e-books or playing. There are few more convenient solutions for these activities than the tablet.

Internet users will always need high-performance devices, whether laptops or desktop PCs, in order to perform serious work, run graphic applications, write long and complex emails, manage their video folders or edit their family photo albums. Consequently, if content generation is the dominant everyday activity, then a laptop or a high-end netbook is clearly a better choice. People generally appreciate if a mobile device is small and light, but the tiny display and the virtual keyboard are not sufficiently helpful for productive activity. Of course many people compromise but the properties of these devices make them unsuitable for performing complex tasks on a sustained basis.

As soon as the part of the day arrives when content consumption takes precedence, tablets are practically unbeatable. Like smartphones they are highly portable, but they offer a much more convenient and flexible way of web surfing, watching videos, listening to music, playing games or even reading e-books. Learning to use tablets does not require hours of studying manuals thanks to the touchscreens, which allow any type of activity to be performed.

Netbook v. PC

A 2010 survey by Retrevo America, the largest network testing and distributing consumer electronics products, among its customers indicates that 780 of every 1,000 buyers decide for a tablet rather than a netbook. This year an estimated 50 million tablets will be sold worldwide, which matches netbook sales figures, but in 2012 the tablet market may exceed the volume of low-end 11-12 inch netbook sales.
Netbook manufacturers are increasingly positioning their products as low-end laptops, but sales data indicate that the “primary computer” role of home desktop PCs is fading away, but of course this is not exclusively due to the emergence of tablets. Consumer demand is guiding manufacturers towards mobile devices as more and more users want to access the desired content anywhere and anytime.

No revolution yet

It would be premature to talk about a tablet revolution in Hungary, but the increase in demand is palpable. Nearly 420 thousand portable computers were sold in 2010, almost 25% of which were ultra portable netbooks. Although both the appearance and the handling of tablets are much closer to the needs of the average user, these devices are popular only with early adopters in Hungary. The spread of tablets is helped by the fact that mobile service providers subsidize the devices if the subscriber selects a plan geared towards tablets, just like they do in the case of mobile phones.