Five reasons why we will get more work done on iPads and other tablet computers

Dec 13, 2010
Finance

The next year will mark the beginning of the end of the personal computer as the dominant device for doing work. In the next era, smartphones and mobile tablets will take a big chunk out of the market for business users. Evidence of a turning point is mounting: Over the next couple of months, Apple […]

The next year will mark the beginning of the end of the personal computer as the dominant device for doing work.

In the next era, smartphones and mobile tablets will take a big chunk out of the market for business users. Evidence of a turning point is mounting:

  • Over the next couple of months, Apple is expected to introduce a new iPad while new  tablets will hit the market from a posse of Apple (AAPL) competitors, including Hewlett-Packard(HPQ), Dell (DELL) and Research in Motion (RIMM). That will continue to drive excitement in the mobile market overall, and former Morgan Stanley analyst Mary Meeker (now a venture capitalist with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers) recently reported that by 2012  smart device sales will pass PC and laptop sales for the first time.
  • An IDC report earlier this month declared that “the PC-centric era is over.” Its conclusion: Cloud-based services, mobile computing, and social networking “will mature and coalesce into a new mainstream platform for both the IT industry and the industries it serves” in 2011 and beyond.
  • Last week, Apple reported that five out of the top 10 iPad apps in 2010 have been productivity apps, suggesting that the iPad is being used for work more than expected. Some of those top work apps include Apple’s Numbers mobile spreadsheet and Keynote mobile presentation app, and the Wolfram Alpha computational knowledge engine.
  • Developers keep rolling out enterprise apps for Apples’ iOS and Google’s Android. A company called 2X Software unveiled an app that lets iPhone or iPad users access Windows-based software. Salesforce.com announced Database.com, which it says is the first database in the cloud – accessible by smart phones and tablets as well as PCs.
  • At the same time, corporate CIOs have increasingly embraced iPhones, iPads and other smart devices, making enterprise-level apps accessible to pretty much any device. Intel CIO Diane Bryant has been a proponent of what Intel calls the “compute continuum” – the idea that employees don’t want to just do work on their corporate-issued laptop, but on any device over any network.
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“It used to be you would come to Intel and get a desktop, and in ’97 you got a notebook, and then smartphones,” Bryant said earlier this year. “Now there are all kinds of devices that people are looking to bring into the environment: netbooks and tablets and all kinds of things. The employee demand was so great, they were saying, ‘I have a smart phone; just let me use it.’”

Smart phones, with their small screens, could only do so much work. It would be difficult to edit a long document or big spreadsheet on an iPhone, for instance. But that changes with the 10-inch screen of an iPad.

This doesn’t mean that PCs are dead, but their position as the main tool of business users will wane. Applications will move to the cloud and not sit on hard drives, and they’ll be virtualized to run on any device instead of only running on Windows.

As for what this means for holiday shopping, keep this in mind: If you’re looking for a way to justify asking Santa for a tablet, tell him it’s not just for watching Netflix streaming movies and reading Wired. Sooner or later, you’ll be using it for work.

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