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AH Primetime: Tablets Are Now Losing Market Share Thanks To Software / Hardware Stagnation

August 25, 2014 - Written By Wayne Peterkin

Ever since the tablet computer exploded unto the scene in 2010 it garnered a lot of positive attention to say the least. Many even started to predict the demise of the great notebook PC, some even included the desktop as well, at the hands of the excitingly new, thin, light, more portable and more straight forward tablet computer. These critics just didn’t see how it was possible for the cumbersome and unwieldy PC to survive against these cheaper, smaller, faster hand-held computers which were equipped with, arguably, a more intuitive and intimate operating system. Armed with these facts and opinions, PC detractors at least believed that the PC would be pushed into obscurity when it came to the dog eat dog world that is the consumer market.

Well, fast forward to 2014 and it seems that these critics who stood upon their soap boxes proclaiming the death of the PC have just been served a nice slice of humble pie. All the Tablet market did away with was the netbook, which many believe has resurfaced as the new Windows based Atom tablets which are doing quiet well. According to Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, the PC is now making a comeback at the expense of the tablet market. This is backed up by both Samsung and Apple’s decrease in world wide tablet shipments this year even though they both did better specifically in the U.S. market with a 4% increase in shipments. In places like Asia Pacific, the tablet market fell by 8% because of lower shipments by Samsung and Apple. In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, shipments fell 11% year on year. In Western Europe, Shipments fell by 18%. It is now apparent that the allure of the simple touch centric UI of Android and IOS is now no longer enough to keep pulling in new customers. It seems that consumers are demanding more than what Android and IOS currently provide. Maybe this is due to the way people see tablets because of the way that they are marketed. Tablets are marketed as media consumption devices. They are seen as companion devices to desktops or even the traditional laptop. They were never truly marketed as a replacement for either of these devices even though the hardware and Android software is quiet capable.

Despite tablets being as powerful as laptops of a couple years ago, they still don’t have apps that are as powerful as those accessible to these now antiquated laptops that are sitting locked away, probably even covered in dust, in a remote area of the homes of many consumers. This is also caused by the fact that developers are creating these apps to fit what consumers are looking for and since consumers have already been fed the notion that tablets aren’t serious computing devices, that is what developers subsequently give them in terms of the kind of apps that they create. For example, the most capable fully functional word editing app that I’ve used on Android thus far is Office Suite Pro. Though Office Suite Pro is an excellent app, there is no way that it could compete with Microsoft Office 2007. The size of Office Suite Pro is probably only around 32MB while Microsoft Office sits at around 1.5GB+. Even Libre Office, which is my word editor of choice, comes in at over 300MB. Microsoft themselves made an app for Android but this app is also rather tiny, paltry in features and comes in at only 27MB. The excuse of space constraints should not be used either because games such as Gameloft’s Nova 3 takes up around 2.2GB.

The story is always the same. The hardware improves every single year, the resolutions go way up, the processor architecture and speeds are always improving and increasing and tablets now even have 3GB of RAM. Some Windows tablets only have 2GB of RAM. There is almost enough RAM to properly support 64 bit operating systems on tablets now. So why are tablet apps so incredibly watered down if these modern tablets are more powerful than many notebooks that were released in and before 2007? Both Consumers and businesses could most certainly want to fully switch over to a tablet. Many IT departments don’t want to have to go through the headache of managing and trouble shooting all the Windows devices of their respective corporations. It is simply much easier to trouble shoot an Android Tablet. It is much easier to update the software on a tablet and if they go with a Nexus device like Virgin America Airlines did, they would stay on the latest Operating System which means that they would also get the latest security updates. Tablets are more than capable of fulfilling the needs of these customers. Right now, the problem is software stagnation.