Later this year Research in Motion is to launch its Blackberry PlayBook, a tablet to rival the iPad. As more and more people have flocked to buy iPad, it has confused the role of both the laptop and the PC.
Justin Rattner, chief technology officer, Intel, says there is evidence to suggest there is still a role for the PC. “Our data suggests they are being bought more as companion devices. I travel a great deal in my job and I look what devices people have, and I almost never see them as standalone. I see an iPad come out then that go away and a MacBook comes out, so they are used as companion devices.”
Alan Chu, MSI’s regional director, MEA, agrees: “Thus far, the Middle East PC market has not been greatly affected by notebooks and netbooks and therefore we do not expect to see a serious effect by tablet PCs and other mobile devices. This is mainly due to the fact that we feel that tablet PCs are designed for a slightly different target audience, whereby they may compete with notebook sales rather than PC sales.”
Increase in mobility required from devices
While people are increasingly looking for mobility in their devices, it seems tablets are still not quite able to substitute for a more robust piece of hardware. “I talked to a lot of people and they are pretty consistent, for consuming content the tablets are wonderful, but as a creative device, not so much. People even say that from a performance point of view, I’d rather be on my notebook than on my tablet device,” explains Rattner.
Chu believes that the immaturity of the tablet market in the Middle East means the impact on other markets is minimal. “The tablet market is still in its infancy stages, and although it is quickly gaining momentum, we do not expect to see Tablets taking too much market share away from PCs at this stage,” he says.
Rattner also believes that the tablet market could branch into different areas. “Everyone thought that netbooks were going to eat into the PC market, but no they actually expanded through the PC market. I think we may find that tablets open up entirely new markets or that at some point netbooks and tablets enjoy some sort of merger. You are starting to see these hybrid devices that do try to merge them,” he states.
Tablet market is still in early stages in Middle East
As the tablet market in the Middle East is reportedly still in its early stages, the question which remains is in what direction is this particular sector heading? Chu states that the trends are to revolve around the operating systems used on the tablets.
“We believe that tablets using the Android platform will be the iOS’s main competitor in 2011. However, the Windows 7 platform is also going to be a huge hit within the tablet PC market. We are also expecting to see new tablet PCs that offer the same functionality as the iPad with even more features and capabilities at a lower price – therefore price will be a key driver for many tablet PC vendors.”
The role of tablet PCs is not yet fully defined, and it seems until it is, the impact it will have on the PC and notebook market cannot be determined. But for now, PCs, laptops and notebooks are all here to stay.