Are tablets on the way out?

Tablets turn four years old this year after having really become popular in 2011 and subsequently selling about 250 million total units globally since. Now, though, they’re seeing a sales plateau and many think that they may have reached their peak.

If so, they did it faster than did most other computing platforms, but they may have been nothing more than a fad. After all, the tablet is not quite a computer and not quite a phone. It’s meant and marketed to reach somewhere between those two points. But for the most part, the public has ignored them going with slightly larger phones and portable notebook computers instead.

In business and everyday life, tablets are only marginally productive. Sure, there are those who can live and die and run their entire business from a tablet. They’re an extreme minority, though, according to surveys. Instead, most people do most of their actual work away from their notebooks and desktops on their smartphones. This is for several reasons.

First, a tablet is not as good as a computer with a dedicated keyboard. For most tasks, the computer is faster, easier, and better-equipped. The keyboard-mouse combination has been around for a long time and we’ve gotten very used to it.

Second, a tablet is not as portable or connected as most smart phones. Today’s smartphone is connected via WiFi, cellular networks, or cable. Usually all three. Plus it fits in your pocket. Tablets? Not so much. Some have WiFi, some have cellular, most have only one or the other. None fit in your pocket.

Third, tablets are expensive but not necessarily task-oriented. Surveys show that the majority of tablet use is for playing games and watching movies, not working at common business tasks. In fact, more people use their smart phone to check email than do people using a tablet.

So is the tablet on the way out? You tell me.

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