Will Laptops Succumb to the Tablet Onslaught?

by Matt Klassen on January 12, 2012

With technology increasingly becoming more mobile and more powerful, it was just a matter of time before we saw the encroachment of the mobile market on the traditional computing sector. In fact, with the advent of the tablet computing device, many have already predicted the impending demise of the traditional laptop computer.

But even as next generation mobile devices are now sufficiently powerful enough to be branded as the ultimate mobile computing machine–small enough to be mobile, powerful enough to replace your laptop—the question remains, is that tablet the successor to the laptop, the next step on the technological evolutionary chain, or can these two devices coexist?

While the debate rages on among analysts, bloggers, and technophiles the world over, polling firm Poll Position conducted a study to see where the general public weighs in on this debate, and it looks like most believe the traditional laptop is on its way out.

In a relatively small survey of just under 2000 American registered voters, Poll Position found that 46 percent of respondents thought that tablets are indeed the natural successor to the laptop and will replace the antiquated computing device in the near future. While that number is still less than half, it is considerably more than the 35 percent of respondents who didn’t think devices like the iPad or Amazon Kindle would replace the laptop and the near 20 percent of respondents who really just didn’t care.

What’s truly interesting about this survey though, is how the various age demographics view the ongoing battle between tablets and laptops. For many analysts who see the writing on the wall for the tablet computer, the argument has always been that laptops are devices of our parents generation—I guess that would be my generation—and that young people will drive forward tablet adoption. According to Poll Position’s findings, however, that seems not to be true.

Among the youngest demographic polled (those aged 18-29), just under half thought that the tablet and laptop could coexist and that the former would not replace the latter. Interestingly, among the oldest demographic surveyed (65 years and older) almost three quarters thought the tablet would surely replace its laptop predecessor in the very near future.

While it remains to be seen which age group really has their finger on the pulse of technological trends and development, I personally find myself torn in this debate. While tablet adoption is high, laptop sales have remained strong-ish, a trend that means tablets are still a tangential niche technology, a sought after device that is not able—at this point at least—to replace anything.

In fact, I look at statistics from market research firms like NPD, which report 72.7 tablets hit store shelves last year, a number that is easily beaten by notebook shipments, which rose to 187.5 million units over the same period, and I have to think that laptops aren’t going anywhere. Case and point, NPD forecasts that by 2017 tablet shipments will rise to a staggering 383.3 million units, at which point they will still lag behind notebook shipments, which are estimated to hit 432 million units.

As I’ve said before, there will come a day when mobile technology will become powerful enough to handle anything we throw at it, and when that day comes the laptop will surely be doomed, whether or not the tablet will be the natural successor, however, still remains to be seen.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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