Badge # 8: Industry Analysis (Cartography)

Tablets are a very hot commodity in the realm of current and emerging technologies. Mobile interfaces are becoming ever more commonplace, and tablets are the mobile technology for those who do not like to use their smart phones for everything: they provide middle ground for technology savvy people who want more easily usable mobile interfaces that are also compact and lightweight. Tablets are also less expensive than laptops and can perform many of the same functions. Furthermore, operating systems do not seem to be an essential factor to individuals looking to buy new technological devices. According to a recent article published on computerworld.com, tablet shipments “will outnumber laptops for the first time in 2013, as touch display capabilities drive buying patterns rather than new operating systems…” (Hamblen).

The most popular tablets of 2012

The most popular tablets of 2012.

There are predictions that tablet shipments will jump to “265.5 million globally in 2013, then more than double to 579.4 million in 2017,” (Hamblen). Tablet shipments are to increase by 67% in 2013 from last year’s numbers. Laptops on the other hand are remaining fairly constant with “203.3 million projected to ship in 2013” (Hamblen).

That touch screen capabilities is important suggests that tablets will have to compete more directly with laptops again soon, because many laptops are slated to come out with touch screen capabilities in the next year or so.

Current trends in laptop preferences indicate interest in very slim and lightweight products, which suggests that the lightweight and easy to carry design of tablets works in their favor over their larger and bulkier counterparts.

MicroGen System's energy harvester will come to the market soon, hopefully helping with battery problems.

MicroGen System’s energy harvester will come to the market soon, hopefully helping with battery problems.

A challenge that tablets and general technological advancements face currently is the problem of batteries and how to effectively improve battery life for new gadgets. In an article published on ExtremeTech, author James Pflake discusses tech company MicroGen Systems’ efforts to bring a device that addresses the problem of battery life. MicroGen Systems is working on a device that acts as an energy harvester that would directly power devices, so that through its process of creating “energy from vibrations in the surrounding environment,” it would be able to create power for objects essentially from “thin air” (Pflake).

A recent article discussing evidence of a smaller, cheaper Windows 8 tablet reveals information about the current status of and future of tablets for Microsoft. Gregg Keizer’s article suggests that Amazon “briefly published a listing for an 8.1 in. Acer-Iconia tablet,” and from the time it was briefly posted, technology analysts made some crucial observations. Firstly, it appears that the tablet features a screen resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is a 30% improvement over the iPad Mini, uses a dual-core Intel Atom processor, and weighs 1.1 lbs. and costs $380 (Keizer). While it is slightly heavier than the Apple iPad Mini, many of its specs suggest that Microsoft is looking to compete with the Apple product using this new, less expensive model.

There is consistently competition between the different companies that produce tablets. Microsoft’s company line about Apple’s iPad is that it has limitations that the Microsoft alternatives do not. On May 6, Bill Gates was quoted in a different article by Gregg Keizer sticking to “the company line” about tablets, and “disparaged rival Apple’s iPad for its lack of a keyboard and its inability to run Office,” (Keizer). Gates asserted, as other Microsoft representatives have already, that the Windows 8 tablet takes the best aspects of tablet usage and PC usage and brings them together.

Microsoft is also reportedly considering buying Nook Media LLC, which would diversify the company’s tablet holdings. The purchase would help Nook since the devices have consistently been discounted, since they “have to compete with Amazon Kindle e-reader devices” (Mackie).

According to another article by Matt Hamblen published on computerworld.com, the most popular tablets for the first quarter of 2013 are Android products, with 27.8 million units, compared with second place Apple, which shipped 19.5 million iPads and iPad minis. In the past year, Android tablet sales have increased from 8 million, or 247%, since the first quarter of 2012. Important to note when analyzing the numbers and observing that Android has a 56.5% share of the market (compared with 39.6% for iOS) is that the Android share includes the less expensive white-box versions.

Sony is attempting to keep up with the competition by developing a super-thin “flexible e-reader device that is less than 7 mm thick and weighs 358 grams, [and is] targeted for use in university classrooms,” (Alabaster).

Although trends suggest that buyers are interested in smaller and lighter tablets, the design of the Nexus 11 tablet is irreverently larger than 8 inches. In fact, the Nexus 11 is slated to be 11 inches, and analysts believe that the reason that designers have decided to do this is simple: “[a]s the tablet market mushrooms, there is room for devices of many sizes,” (Hamblen). Apparently, the tablet is ideal for the consumer who “sits on the sofa and uses a tablet while watching TV,” (Hamblen). Furthermore, larger tablets seem to reconcile the desire to be able to create content and use external keyboards and have smaller, mobile devices (Hamblen).

With the recent predictions about updated versions of Android, it seems that new “gaming and social features” could come to Android-based tablets in the next generation (Rodriguez).

Gizmag recently published a useful 2012 round-up sort of article that compared the existing tablets in the market. The article acknowledges that “specs aren’t everything,” but maintains that “they can suggest a device’s capabilities” (Shanklin). This particular article provides a panoramic view of seven of the most popular tablet devices of 2012.

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Works Cited

1. Alabaster, Jay. “Sony to launch super-thin, flexible e-reader for universities,” computerworld.comhttp://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9239131/Sony_to_launch_super_thin_flexible_e_reader_for_universities

2.Hamblen, Matt. “Tablet shipments to outpace laptops in 2013,” computerworld.com. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9238939/Tablet_shipments_to_outpace_laptops_in_2013

3. Keizer, Gregg. “Gates sticks to company line on tablets, knocks iPad,” computerworld.comhttp://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9238949/Gates_sticks_to_company_line_on_tablets_knocks_iPad

4. Hamblen, Matt. “Think tablets are popular? Shipments soar in first quarter,”  computerworld.com. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9238834/Think_tablets_are_popular_Shipments_soar_in_first_quarter

5. Pflake, James. “Energy harvester that creates power from ambient vibrations finally comes to market,” extremetech.com.  http://www.extremetech.com/computing/155102-energy-harvester-that-creates-power-from-ambient-vibrations-finally-comes-to-market?fb_action_ids=10201016329000713&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%2210201016329000713%22%3A148567951989752%7D&action_type_map=%7B%2210201016329000713%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

6. Keizer, Gregg. “Amazon leaks evidence of first smaller cheaper Windows 8 tablet,” computerworld.comhttp://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9238923/Amazon_leaks_evidence_of_first_smaller_cheaper_Windows_8_tablet

7. Mackie, Kurt. “Microsoft considering Nook Buy,” redmondmag.com.  http://redmondmag.com/articles/2013/05/09/microsoft-considering-nook-buy.aspx?sc_lang=en

8. Hamblen, Matt. “Remind me: Why do we want a Nexus 11 tablet?” computerworld.com. http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9238797/Remind_me_Why_do_we_want_a_Nexus_11_tablet_

9. Rodriguez, Armando. “What’s Next for Android? New Gaming and Social Features Could be on Deck,” cio.com. http://www.cio.com/article/733265/What_s_Next_for_Android_New_Gaming_and_Social_Features_Could_be_on_Deck?taxonomyId=600013

10. Shanklin, Will. “2012 Tablet Comparison,” gizmag.comhttp://www.gizmag.com/tablet-comparison-2012/24877/

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