Forrester: Tablets expected to supplant laptops by 2016

By on April 26, 2012, 9:30 AM

Thanks in part to industry efforts to make tablets both magical (video) and affordable, Forrester Research predicts that tablets will become the preferred computing device for millions of people by 2016. Global tablet sales have been steadily climbing and there's no doubt the futuristic form factor has found its way into many homes: over 56 million tablets were sold in 2011. However, will tablets really supplant laptops as the mobile computer people turn to?

In a recent market analysis labeled, "Tablets Will Rule the Future Personal Computing Landscape", the research firm projects tablet sales will top 375 million units by 2016. In addition, Forrester Research generally expects tablets to last about three years before the aging devices are replaced by their owners, meaning about 760 million tablets will be in use by 2016. 

Globally speaking, about 40 percent of sales are expected to be driven by "emerging markets" while nearly a third will be pushed by businesses.

For those who are skeptical, the principal analyst involved with the study had this to say:

"I agree that laptops are still preferred today, if you had to pick one device," he notes. But he is firm in believing that preference "will flip in the next few years. Tablets will get good enough at many, but not all creation tasks — plus they'll become so important and convenient for every day use and consumption, that they become an individual's primary device."

"Over the next four years, tablets will gain new sensors, processing power, and better wireless capabilities for connecting with nearby devices," Frank Gillette, principal analyst on Forrester's business technology futures team, wrote in the report. "This will enable full voice control and dictation, increased gesture control, more situational context, better accessory integration, and software that anticipates a user's needs."

Source: cnet.com, Frank Gillette (Forrester Research analyst)

It may be important to note the firm counts hybrid or convertible devices as tablets. Examples of such devices include the Asus Transformer and the Lenovo Yoga. 

Forrester Research also predicts the introduction of a new tablet-like device intended for larger-scale applications. The firm is calling this device a "frame" and expects the device to sport a far larger display and higher-end hardware. Such a larger may be useful for presentation, entertainment and business applications.




User Comments: 11

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MilwaukeeMike said:

It may be important to note the firm counts hybrid or convertible devices as tablets.
So... tablets will replace laptops as soon as they work just like laptops. How profound.

Maybe i'm crazy, but I define a tablet as a touch screen that you have to hold. If I can rest it on a desk with the screen tilted up and it has a keyboard and attached mouse, then that's not a tablet.

Right now i'm at work using a laptop in a docking station, so i'm typing on a separate keyboard, looking at a 23 in monitor and using a mouse. But the computer IS a laptop. I could use the same technique with a tablet in the future, but it doesn't mean the tablet is the preferred experience.

If you follow this trend i'll be docking my phone in a few years anyway and the tablet will be a joke.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Seems like not a week goes by where we get a "device A is going to replace device B" announcement. They've been saying it for years about desktops yet sales of desktops keep growing.

In a business environment, tablets are nice for checking e-mail and surfing the web. That's about it - they're not business production tools.

Guest said:

In a business environment, tablets are nice for checking e-mail and surfing the web. That's about it - they're not business production tools.

This may be true specifically for you but for millions of people, including myself, tablets are an incredible work machine/tool. Just because "you" only surf porn from them doesn't mean others aren't using them to save tons of man hours.

mario mario, Ex-TS Developer, said:

Guest nailed it, just because you don't find some tools useful you shouldn't dismiss it. Lots of businesses are using tablets ?by the way, when people say tablets they usually mean iPads? as an extra tool for their employees not as a replacement of their desktop/laptop computer.

Guest said:

As an IT manager for a company with about 150 employees, I see no reason to upgrade any of them to tablets. Why do all these people need touch screens? They don't, such an upgrade would be pointless.

Tygerstrike said:

Once again a tablet is more of a personal preference. I use my desktop and tablet at work. If I need to create a document while im out I just do it on my tablet. When I get back in I can print it out. To some a tablet, all tablets, are just a toy. But for some its essential to running their business.

Each person or business has to decide if they want to intergrate tablets into their wireless structure on a individual basis. What works for some wont work for others.

tonylukac said:

I never used a tablet, but touchscreen phones are awful to hunt and peck on, altho better than pushing a button 4 times per letter to text. I wouldn't want to create any documents on a tablet in this style without a keyboard, let alone even type in urls. Let's learn to type.

TJGeezer said:

"If you follow this trend i'll be docking my phone in a few years anyway and the tablet will be a joke."

Makes sense to me. All it would take is a very portable phone docking station with a large screen you can unroll and usable keyboard. But then I already have a laptop and no assembly is required to use it like a PC.

A tablet capable of taking dictation, now... yeah, that would be useful for all sorts of purposes. But again, a phone with a fast data connection could do it just as well, would be more portable and would generally serve more purposes.

Guest said:

This may be true specifically for you but for millions of people, including myself, tablets are an incredible work machine/tool. Just because "you" only surf porn from them doesn't mean others aren't using them to save tons of man hours.

People who need a desktop computer just so that they can run porn? What an ignorant comment. People use desktop computers because they have a better keyboard, larger screen, it's lightyears more powerful than a tablet, etc, etc and I don't know about that guy you talked to, but I use my desktop to run Office, Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere, Dreamweaver, etc.....all lightyears ahead of all that crap on a tablet too and I haven't even started about the amount of software that is available, third party hardware or even games. A tablet has i's purposes, but unlike you who does seem to watch porn all day and waste your time on facebook and youtube, there are people who actually do something PRODUCTIVE (heard of that word?) in their lives and for that a desktop computer is a no-brainer.

Guest said:

They would absolutely LOVE to sell us more hardware every year. Tablets are a dream for most manufacturers, but are, for the most part, a nightmare for the average business owner. Remember -- every piece of hardware that you buy depreciates. There is no getting around it -- the second that you unwrap the new gadget to start using it, the clock also starts on its eventual demise.

PCs are a better investment, and in particular, desktop PCs. You can upgrade a chassis for a good ten to fifteen years, as long as the form factors of various components don't change considerably. Try that with any tablet, or notebook, for that matter.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I was on the "tablets are pretty lame" bandwagon until I got my Transformer Prime, now I can hands down say that its a great alternative to a laptop.

Yeah, its basically turning a tablet into a laptop, but we had this battle before when it came to laptop vs desktop. Yeah, a laptop works great as a desktop replacement when you essentially turn it into a desktop computer.

But it really depends what a person needs it for. I realized over the course of the school year, that most of my school books are in digital format, and a tablet is an ideal way to read them. Also taking my notebook, my primary computer in school to class every day, subjects it to shocks, potential of damage, that I really don't want over the long run. But that's my situation, and I decided that a tablet would complement my other electronics nicely.

My classmate who got the same tablet over x-mas actually got rid of her laptop and just uses the prime as her only computer in school. So again, to each his own.

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