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Summary:

Tablets are cutting into PC usage and are also stealing time from ereaders and gaming machines, according to a Nielsen survey. Tablets have started to shift the computing load away from more traditional machines and now present a significant challenge to hardware makers.

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Tablets are cutting into desktop and laptop use and are also stealing time from e-readers and dedicated gaming machines, according to a new survey from Nielsen Co. The company found that the rise of tablets has started to shift the computing load away from more traditional machines and now presents a significant challenge to hardware makers.

Nielsen said that 35 percent of tablet owners said they used their desktop less or not at all now, and 32 percent of laptop users said the same since they bought a tablet. This may explain some of  the recent falling PC sales figures; IDC said PC shipments fell by 3.2 percent in the first quarter, in part due to the rise of tablets like the iPad. IDC said while the economy and lack of compelling new hardware experiences played a role, new tablets are als

o providing options for consumers. Apple is the clear winner in the early tablet race with 82 percent of tablet owners buying one, according to Nielsen, followed by the Samsung Galaxy Tab at 4 percent.

But it’s not just PCs that are being affected. E-readers and gaming machines are also getting used less because of tablets. Nielsen found that 27 percent of ereaders owner said they used those devices less since getting a tablet. And a quarter of portable gaming machine users and 20 percent of gaming console owners reported using them less or not at all since they got a tablet. Companies such as Nintendo are having to deal with the rise of gaming on mobile devices like smartphones and the iPad. Nintendo recently reported a 29 percent drop in revenue for its latest fiscal year as hardware sales dropped.

We’re still early in the tablet era and it’s not clear that all of these usage declines for other machines is solely due to tablets. Smartphones have also been easing our reliance on traditional machines. And there are external factors like a lingering tough economy that can affect some hardware sales. But the tablets are proving to be a significant presence in the computing landscape and will continue to reorder our hardware needs as they grow in popularity.

More than 3 out of 4 tablet owners (77 percent) said they used their tablet for things they used to turn to a desktop or laptop for. Some of the top reasons for using a tablet include is that it’s easy to carry (31 percent), has an easy interface (21 percent) and starts-up quickly (15 percent).

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  1. Don’t have a tablet and don’t see a need for one.

    1. Agree. A man without a tablet is like a fish without a bicycle. But a more appropriate analogy (and a less entertaining one than that of Shock Me) is that a tablet (esp iPad) is a bit like chocolate. You can live without it, but why would you, if you could afford it ?

    2. The same was said about PC when the Apple I and II was released. Then a spreadsheet program became available for these new minicomputers and no one was questioning their role anymore. Then came Excel and the rest is history… I guess someday some killer app will turn the the tablet from a toy into a serious and indispensable tool. Maybe you’ll be the one to create it Tim… you never know! :-)

  2. Well Tim,

    It’s not really about need. No one needs a home computer either or a television, or a book, or game console, or even electricity. We could all sit under trees and throw fecal matter at passersby.

    1. God, that was beautiful.

    2. This was awesome.

    3. LOL, but i am with Ric on this one, however eye opening article.

    4. as it is, my rear-end isn’t wide enough for pants with backpockets big enough to fit an iPad

      1. I hear that. Sure wouldn’t leave much room for a wallet. It doesn’t fit in many purses either, although the iPad nano (iPhone) certainly has no trouble with either. If your ass was big enough for that I wouldn’t recommend sitting on an iPad either without Kevlar undergarments.

        I got my iPad quite simply because I wanted an iPhone with a larger interaction surface because I suspected it might add greatly to quality of the experience. I was delighted to be proved correct. My experIence with it for the last year mirrors many of the things described in the above article. Although I have many suggestions where it might be improved, you couldn’t pry it from my cold dead hands.

        Be well.

      2. So now we know the problem. Get fatter dude – binge on and then you become iPad ready !

      3. where da buffet line at?

  3. I think what Tim was saying was that he saw no need to be another shill in the Apple hamster wheel. I personally agree as I find nothing about tablets and the iPad compelling enough to drop ANY amount of money buying one. My notebook serves my needs just fine. Since Apple has the lions share of the market its easy enough to chalk this trend up to blind Apple fandom.

    1. “… he saw no need to be another shill in the Apple hamster wheel.”

      It’s this kind of flippant dismissal of others that Shock Me was responding to. On a lesser note, he/she also responded to Tim in a far more elegant and entertaining way.

      “My notebook serves my needs just fine.”

      As does mine, which is why I do not own an iPad.

      “Since Apple has the lions share of the market its easy enough to chalk this trend up to blind Apple fandom.”

      This is the statement that will allow people to disregard your remarks in their entirety due to the fact that it is blatant, rabid anti-anything-apple hyperbole. This isn’t the 1990s anymore. Apple is selling product to people well outside it’s traditional fan base, the numbers are undeniable. So to suggest one can easily chalk this up to Apple fandom is, at best, ignorant.

    2. Not seeing a need for your use is a perfectly ok position and you are entitled to it, but chalking all these sales to merely an “Apple fandom” is a little disingenious. The trend is unmistakable that *some* people (in large absolute #s, perhaps low relative #) find it valuable to have such a device and are happy to pay for it. So although I dont own a tablet, I wouldnt be blind to this trend – both as an investor into the space or a user of this device.

    3. I just re-read my comment, and I think calling you ignorant was inappropriate. So I apologize. We simply have a different point of view. Sorry for the insult.

      1. Although ignorance is accurate, I’ve found that it is seldom useful when attempting to make a point. Some people can take it to mean they can never know instead of they don’t yet know.

        For example Twitter puzzles me but it appears to be quite popular so I will reserve my judgement until someone explains the utility of it or I take the time to figure it out for myself. For me what is most compelling about the iPad is not what it can replace but the ease with which it transforms itself into what is needed at the moment in the place you happen to be.

        Although it has more development ahead of it to faithfully replicate ALL of the functions of a more traditional form factors (e.g., a higher fidelity keymap on a larger interaction surface for long form text entry), the fact is that sort of development is secondary to forms of interaction that move beyond the keyboard for inputs where words may not bethe most efficient means to communicate a concept.

        For the most part this has manifested itself in some really quite stellar consumption apps for many types of media and even mixtures of those different forms in single apps.

        But apps like GarageBand hint at something that other form factors are simply too awkward to accomplish. Just as many people find a stylus and pressure sensitive graphics tablet a much smoother experience than drawing with what I’ve heard referred to as a bar of soap.

        The mobility, immediacy, and efficiency of the iPad and I suspect future Android and Windows tablets at certain everyday tasks compared to their predecessors will assure them a place in many people’s arsenal of devices.

        At the moment iPads are a bit like bicycles. But I see a time when even though our fingers may stay on the surface (with at least 10 points of interaction) our minds will soar beyong the keyboard and mouse like the Wrights did at killdevil hills. We won’t have to conform to the machine. The machine will conform to us.

        When you finally lay hands one and take a moment to suspend your skepticism, I think you will understand too. Just reach out and touch it when no one is looking. I won’t tell.

    4. Andrei Timoshenko Ric Friday, May 6, 2011

      Blind fandom only works as an excuse when the product is niche. There is no way to turn tens of millions of users into blind fans. Most companies would love to do it, but the only way it can be done is through an awesome product. Does not mean that the product can appeal to each of the 6.5 billion humans alive, of course.

  4. TheReviewer Thursday, May 5, 2011

    I’ve notice more and more people using tablets.

  5. Mickhamblen Thursday, May 5, 2011

    I don’t “need” one. But I have one and it’s damned convenient. Too bad some are scared to try an iPad. Afraid they might like it.

    Sent from my iPad…

  6. But how can a tablet replace a mobile phone ?

  7. There not “tablets,” there are only iPads.

    1. I meant to say, “There are not ‘tablets,’ there are only iPads.”

  8. Teracerulean Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Makes me wonder about the readers.

    I work in IT and recently grabbed an iPad just prior to my laptop lease expiring. I wanted to see how I would use it before deciding what type of computer to buy. As desktops are still more bang for buck, I thought if the iPad met my ‘mobile’ needs I would go back to a big desktop.

    After seven months I would say it transformed the way I use tech. I watch TV on it, online, not just downloads. I have all my research and work material on it – I take it into meetings. I play with puzzles in idle moments. I sketch musical ideas on it using several great apps. When I want to watch something at my girlfriend’s I load it onto the iPad to stream to her TV. It sits beside my main machines when I work as a kind of supplementary screen with email, tasks, and calendar at the ready as well as all my notes, whiteborad snapshots (autoloaded and indexed directly from my iPhone) audio notes from my digital pen, and every PDF I have ever annotated and indexed (hundreds). When cooking it’s my uber-recipe book (really doesn’t mind the odd splash of sauce – unlike the keyboard on the old laptop), no-one talks about it but of course you can take your email, music, movies and the whole internet into the ‘little room’, I read all my news courtesy of really nice RSS app on it, I use it as a sheet music stand, and it will play passages of music that i am learning at any speed I want, I have a mount for it for my exercise bike and treadmill so I can watch a show or read an eBook while burning off some fat, I connect to the work sharepoint system on it to update lists and documents, and when I need to I log directly into my office machine to use it remotely, I do ear training on it (music again), and much much more.

    It’s easier to do lots of stuff with, and more fun. I don’t code on it – do that on the big box. I don’t write reports on it.

    I use my phone less, I use my computers less, I use my TV and DVD much less. I don’t use a radio at all any more, I an even using my (musical) keyboard less – I use thumbjamb now to quickly work out melodies – I have chucked out my dedicated guitar tuner, – the second TV in the bedroom hasn’t been turned on since I got. And I use my expensive massively screened computer only when I need to write, code, compose, or design.

    The comments here about the ‘uselessness’ of the new format are made from sheer ignorance. So if Apple are the only real game in town right now – that’s just what happens if you do something first. Other vendors will figure out tablet computing and build quality alternatives.

    In IT at least, brand loyalty is the last refuge of the unemployed. Judge a platform on its merits – not who made.

    This article is spot on as far as my experience goes – and the trend will only continue.

  9. Interpreting the data is void again from another article designed for publicizing the iPad. Shame, shame. The important figure is how many people are dumping the PC for the tablet. That number is the only one that matters and it is pitifully low hovering at 2 percent. The ever improving laptop will kill off the tablet permanently as it has far more followers and functionality. I need a computer, I don’t need a tablet.

  10. Niall Harbison Friday, May 6, 2011

    At the same time it’s important to remember what the tablet doesn’t do! I tried writing a short 5 line blog post including a Youtube video last night and it took me about 30 minutes (things like no URLs on Youtube app etc). You can’t work effectively on tablets and that will mean that you will always need some sort of laptop device if you like most people intend doing some work at home.

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