In Defense of Tablets


The tablet is doomed. It was a fad. Who needs one, anyway?

At least that’s the conventional wisdom forming around the iPad and other tablets in the wake of some recent negative sales news. Apple’s iPad sales have been down in the last couple of quarters. Samsung says demand for its tablets has grown “sluggish.” Microsoft’s Surface tablet line has failed to take off.

Many commentators…argue that the tablet boom is over, and that their makers are out of ideas. Others say the tablet was supposed to replace the PC, but has failed to do so.

Maybe so. The recent sales troubles for big-name tablets are undeniable. But I think the conclusions that are being drawn from them are wrong.

I think the tablet is a terrific device.

I agree with Mossberg. I use my iPad dozens of times a day, even with a Macbook Pro within reach. And, when it comes to traveling, whether on public transit or a plane, I’m more likely to pull out the iPad than the MBP or even my iPhone.

  • matthewmaurice

    What’s dead is the analogy of the tablet as a big smartphone. Use patterns are different, engagement models are different, and most of all upgrade/replacement cycles are different. Everyone who thought that the tablet segment would play out just like the smartphone market were just plain wrong, and those analysts who were right are the ones who deserve to be listened too in the future (e.g. the Bens from Cubed.FM)

    • lucascott

      what’s funny is that that is why i got an iPad in the first place. it was a big iPod (I can’t say smart phone since it doesn’t make calls). I wanted the same use but with a more comfortable screen

      at work we got them because using a laptop on top of a ladder was too cumbersome and we couldn’t view our schematics etc as well on an iPhone. And then we just kept adding things until now we barely use computers on set at all. Only change we made was switching the riggers etc to Minis cause they fit in cargo pockets and tool bags much better

  • Shaoolin

    Of course, the funny thing is that the same people who are arguing the boom is over and tablets have failed to replace the PC, are the same who were saying tablets would replace the PC in the first place. Kind of a self-fulfilling claim chowder: “see, told you this bicycle would never fly to the moon”

  • Sigivald

    Many commentators…argue that the tablet boom is over

    I think they’re right – the boom is over.

    But that’s not the same as tablets being a fad; it’s them going from 0 to approaching-saturation, in the First World.

  • brucej

    Until I got a 13″ MBA, I felt the same way about my iPad. Now I almost never touch the iPad. Granted it’s an old iPad 2, but I’ve yet to really feel the need to replace it, now that the MBA is in my hands.

    The 13″ MBA is The Worlds Most Perfect Laptop. 🙂

    Now, were apple to bring out a 13″ iPad…well, I’d have to look at one and reconsider.

    • a laptop fails the use case for lounging sideways on the sofa, and passing around to share photos. thats where the tablet form factor shines.

  • lucascott

    Setting aside the Surface when I do think is doomed until MS revamps their thinking, the doom and gloom crowd suffers two major issues in my POV.

    1. They expect every release to be a total revamp with something crazy new added. They just don’t get that sometimes evolution, not revolution, is being innovative

    2. They fail to pay attention to trends. Yes this past quarter sales have been down, especially of the iPad. And even the iPhone. But that happens this time of the year every year. Because folks are waiting to get the latest and greatest. They buy for that, for holiday and for back to school. Then it peters off for the other half of the year. It’s just how it is.

  • Kyler Finn

    Methinks part of the recent slump for Apple is simply due to consumer expectations that the new iPad will be out in October. Since taking the reins from Jobs, Cook and Co. have deliberately stacked their entire product line to benefit from the end of year sales glut. Personally, I hate it because it forces me to be patient when I want to be impulsive. Jobs was a master of surprise and mystery. Cook is a robot. Time will tell if its a better strategy.

    • why doenst their continued breaking of sales records and increase of stock price answer this question already, today? wish my company had a robot like that.

  • Lukas

    “And, when it comes to traveling, whether on public transit or a plane, I’m more likely to pull out the iPad than the MBP or even my iPhone.”

    But you still carry your MBP with you. That’s the problem.

    • Sorry – I worded that wrong. I don’t carry my MBP while around town on public transit. I do when traveling for days/distance but it stays in the bag.

  • CJ

    Lots of tech commentators struggling to find something to talk about in a slow moving (gasp – iterating) world. If it’s not “revolutionizing the industry” or “killing the competition” it’s never interesting to write about for long. Perhaps there are too many tech writers writing for too many tech sites.