Tablet Disruption

Tablets are causing disruption to laptop sales. History is repeating.

Most people love cool new electronic gadgets. The iPad tablet is an example. Beautifully designed, pretty powerful and fun to use. Importantly, it is also easy to use. People are finding out that they can fulfill most of their computing or surfing needs with tablets like the iPad. Indeed we are seeing that the tablet is beginning to disrupt laptop sales.

There are indications that tablets will be popular this year and in the coming years. Tablet sales are expected to reach  15 million units in 2010, and 28 million in 2011 (see Report: iPad, tablets to cannibalize ‘Wintel’ laptops). While this will introduce new users to computers, this will also take a some cut out of the market share of laptops and netbooks. This is a very good example of disrupting technology.

This trend is not surprising since computers are moving from being technology products to becoming consumer devices (see the iPad Effect). This is a normal evolution of technology. As products become less technical and more functional, the market usually increases and the majority of people can start to use the product.

Another interesting thing is that we are seeing new types of operation systems grow in market share. iOS from Apple is on millions of devices and Android is a popular tablet OS available to anyone and growing fast according to some reports. These operating systems are based on real systems like the MacOS and Linux, but they are simpler with simpler interfaces (see Human Computer Interaction. This could have impact on operating system vendors, in particular Microsoft, makers of Windows.

The tablet is causing a new shift in computing and disrupting the current form of computers. If you compare tablets to personal computers, they may be lower performance and cheaper, but many disruptive technologies have this attribute. The personal computer itself a good example. History is again repeating itself.