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The State of Tablets, Through the Holidays and Beyond

November 23, 2011 By Tara Hutton, Director of Market Research at CEA
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Without a doubt, tablets have changed the computing landscape. They’ve been around for about 10 years—with Microsoft first introducing the concept in 2001—but it really wasn’t until 2010 when Apple introduced the iPad that tablets started to gain traction in the marketplace. Since then, manufacturers have introduced a number of models.

Consumers’ Computing Portfolio
As the tablet market expands, the CE industry is looking to understand the implications on the three other computing platforms—desktops, laptops and netbooks. Are consumers choosing tablets over these more traditional computing platforms or simply expanding their computing repertoire? Let’s first take a look at current adoption rates across computing platforms.

According to a recent report, CEA’s Consumer Outlook on Tablets, about three in every four online U.S. adults owns a desktop or laptop computer. Netbook and tablet ownership among online U.S. adults lags behind at 15 percent and 14 percent, respectively.

While 14 percent may not seem like much, it is a sizable increase from the 2 percent of online consumers reporting ownership of tablet computers five years ago. Granted, ownership at that time was limited to first-generation tablet devices, such as Microsoft’s Tablet PC or Nokia’s 770 Internet Tablet. Most (75 percent) tablet owners acquired their device less than a year ago (sometime between October 2010 and October 2011), fueled by Apple’s introduction of the iPad. An additional 17 percent have owned their tablet for a year.

The Cannibalization Concern
So far, signs do not point toward tablets cannibalizing sales of other computing platforms. When CEA asked tablet owners whether they had stopped using their other computing devices, very few said they had. For example, only 11 percent of tablet owners said they had stopped using their laptop computer. Among laptop and tablet owners, only 8 percent said they have stopped using their laptop as a result of owning a tablet.

Further, tablet owners exhibit strong purchase intent across a variety of computing platforms. One in four (27 percent) expect to buy a desktop computer over the next 12 months, 43 percent expect to buy a laptop and 23 percent expect to buy a netbook. Desktop and laptop computers will continue to be the front runners in the PC category, as they provide consumers with the robust processing power and form factor more suited toward traditional PC activities. In addition, lower price points are likely to keep these platforms mainstream for years to come.
 

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