Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tossing Away My Tablet

"The consumer tablet is dying; long live the business tablet" by Anick Jesdanun Associated Press  March 24, 2016

NEW YORK — Tablets may never again be the consumer sensation they once were, but they are finding new life among professionals.

Unlike early models, these tablets are meant to be used with a physical keyboard and a stylus. That makes them appealing to people looking to get stuff done, whether that’s typing a report or drawing on a graphics app.

‘‘It’s no secret the tablet business has slowed down overall except in places where there’s productivity,’’ says Gary Riding, a senior vice president for mobile computing marketing at Samsung. (“Productivity,’’ in this case, being jargon for work as opposed to play.)

These new devices also have higher price tags. Many sell for almost $1,000, or even more with accessories. Companies market them as PC replacements rather than devices for watching video, reading books, and playing games — that is, things you can already do with your phone.

Tablet shipments fell 10 percent to 207 million worldwide last year and are projected to fall another 6 percent this year, according to IDC, but ‘‘It’s not all doom and gloom,’’ IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani says.

In a sense, Apple was a victim of its own success following the iPad’s debut in 2010. Tablets took off with consumers who found them appealing replacements for home laptops. But people haven’t replaced them as often as phones. And as phones got bigger, some people began wondering whether they needed a tablet at all.

I can't think of any reason.

Enter Microsoft.

It took two years to get it right, though.

‘‘Everyone wants a tablet, and everyone needs a laptop,’’ says Brian Hall, Microsoft’s general manager for Surface. ‘‘You can have an approach that says people need to buy one of each, or you can have an approach that says there’s a happy medium.’’

The holiday quarter was the best yet for Surface, with revenue increasing 29 percent to $1.35 billion.

But don’t count Apple out.

‘‘This is what happens as markets mature,’’ says Jan Dawson, chief analyst with Jackdaw Research. ‘‘There’s a lot more market that can only be served with niche and segmented products.’’

That's when I tossed it.