Apple believes the tablet market will grow beyond the PC market, and I wouldn’t bet against this being the case. Eventually.
At the moment tablets feel like luxury item, with the majority of people happy with the combination of laptop and smartphone to the extent they don’t feel the need to buy a third device which bridges the gap between these two. But that’s only right now, when smartphones are a relatively new technology and on an upward curve similar to that of the PC 20 years ago.
As the price of tablets comes down and the technology improves more people will be tempted to purchase one, and possibly at the expense of upgrading their PC. It’s at this point that tablets could become THE device to own, with mainstream appeal across the board, and a huge range of choice meaning most people could afford one.
That’s certainly what Apple believes, with CEO Tim Cook expressing the following during the company’s earnings call with investors and analysts:
We thought… from the beginning of this that it [tablets] would be a huge market, and it has been even greater than we thought. And we’ve now sold 40 million [iPads] on cumulative basis. And it’s pretty clear to me that if you forecast out in time that the tablet market — I still believe it will be larger than the PC market. That’s not a guidance number. That’s just something that I very much believe. There will be many, many more people that can access it, and the ease of use is so phenomenal and off the charts that I think it’s a huge opportunity for Apple across time.
Not just for Apple but for other companies as well. The first manufacturer to build an Android-powered tablet which can do everything an iPad can but for a fraction of the price could win big. That may well be Amazon, although I suspect it’ll be the second-generation Kindle Fire that truly delivers.
SplatF has a comprehensive rundown of the numbers involved here, and concludes by agreeing with Cook. The only caveat being that it could take 10 years or more for the tablet market to overcome the PC market. I personally think it’ll happen quicker than that, but most people now agree that tablets are the future.