Tablets may be a hot item now, but they’re just getting started. By 2016, 34 percent of the U.S. population — 112.5 million — will own tablets, making them the fastest adopted consumer electronics device in history. But tablets alone won’t be the big story in the coming years according to James McQuivey, VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research. Speaking at the paidContent 2012 event on Wednesday, McQuivey noted that it’s not just a “tablet or iPad world” coming, but an “everything world.”
“Rapidly converging technlogies accelerate the benefits of consumer delivery,” McQuivey said, and that benefit is digital content and entertainment. “It’s all about the software,” he said, because software services make the content easy to access across a wide number of devices, such as the 35 million e-readers also owned by consumers. “The big thing happening is a platform promise between device makers, service providers and consumers.” That’s why the iPad(s aapl) is a hit: It’s a solid blend of hardware, software and ecosystem support.
This “platform promise” is bringing unprecedented use of devices for content, particularly with the iPad. Consumers are looking for a full package; not just a nice piece of hardware. And until others can offer that full, “everything” package, Apple will continue to lead. But don’t count out Microsoft(s msft), McQuivey said, given the 70 million Xbox 360 devices connected to televisions.
“The platform is the new throne where content reigns and content is king,” he notes. “And the platform promise can make or unmake a king at any time.” The iPad might be sitting on the throne now, but as competitors build up the promise of their platform, the game of thrones rages on.