Monday, June 21, 2010

Tablets, netbooks, laptops and PCs

Forrester Research is predicting iPad sales will tank. I'm not sure about that. In fact I think Forrester is dead wrong. Here's my predictions:

  • Tablets will displace netbooks as lightweight mobile platforms. On their own they're lighter and slimmer than netbooks and work well for media playing, Web browsing and the like. Attach a lightweight Bluetooth keyboard and they're OK for light text entry without needing too many accessories hauled along. And mobile devices like tablets will show high sales because they tend to be replaced relatively often (mostly because they're sold through cel-phone services with 2-year contracts and hardware upgrade offers just before the contract expires to tempt you into renewing).
  • Laptops will keep on being the portable computing solution. You won't take them to the coffee shop, but a single bag's easy enough to haul to a hotel or on a trip where you can set up on a desk. They'll show sales growth but not as much as mobile devices, because the wear and tear on the hardware's greater and you tend to have to replace them every 3-5 years because they're breaking down. And if not, you're seeing big increases in capability (bigger hard drives, larger displayes, lower weights) that make a replacement attractive.
  • Traditional desktop PCs will continue to be a non-growth sector. Everybody who wants one already has one, and they only replace it when it stops working. CPUs and such are already fast enough for ordinary stuff, so there's no real push to upgrade the hardware. When it comes right down to it, though, desktops offer speed, display quality, keyboard quality, peripherals and security/safety that mobile devices lack. Desktops nailed down to a wired network aren't vulnerable to outsiders sniffing traffic. They can support bigger displays, because those displays are sitting on a nice solid desk and don't have to be carried around, and those bigger displays make for more comfortable reading of what's on them. But you don't buy a new desktop every 2 years, you replace them maybe every 5-8 years when they finally do start to break down.

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