As we move forward into 2013, the tablet market is continuing to grow and diversify. A number of trends are emerging:
- PC sales are dropping with some predicting that tablets will overtake PC sales in 2013 (see also http://www.surfmobee.com/?p=1046) .
- The tablet market is diversifying. Currently the iPad leads the way albeit with its share shrinking (see also http://www.iclarified.com/26485/apple-loses-tablet-marketshare-post-holidays-chart).
- E-reader sales are in strong decline with the advantages of the multi-use functionality of tablets (see also http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS23833612#.UPjt_idQF8F).
Let’s examine these trends further:
Switch to tablets
According to Gartner the final quarter of 2012 saw the global sale of PCs drop by 4.9%. This was despite the release of Windows 8 (the latest version of Windows), which was expected to boost PC sales in keeping with previous Windows releases.
A number of analysts are suggesting that users are shifting away from PCs and towards tablets. Rather than updating their current computers, users are allowing them to age as most of their time is now spent on a tablet (or smartphone), with only limited time spent on the PC.
The tablet market is diversifying
The phenomenal success of the iPad has seen an explosion in tablet sales since 2010. The iPad leads the way in terms of sales but, in 2012, its market share began to be squeezed by a range of cheaper tablets running the Android operating system. Google’s own Nexus 7 tablet has now overtaken iPad sales in Japan and it is likely that a combination of android running tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy and Amazon Kindle Fire, will combine with the Nexus 7 to have greater overall market share.
Additionally, Microsoft entered the market with its own Surface tablet. The Pro version is aimed at enterprise customers and it will be interesting to see if many business workers make the switch from the iPad.
E-reader sales in decline
Research from IDC indicates a strong decline in the sale of dedicated e-Readers which, in 2012, was around 28%.This is despite increased sales of eBooks. The reason suggested is that consumers are switching from owning an e-reader to owning a tablet which offers multi-functionality (books, media, productivity and games) over single functionality.
So what does this mean for higher education?
Firstly, any long-term planning around learning technology should avoid being device-specific. This is not to say pockets of innovation around highly capable devices like the iPad should not take place, but learning management systems should remain open and device agnostic and, of course, a mobile strategy is imperative.
Additionally, technology markets will continue to be disrupted for many years to come but open standards, such as HTML5 and ePub, offer universities opportunities to future proof their content.
Finally, universities should continuously collect data around student and staff usage. In a “Bring Your Own Device” culture we need to know what devices are connecting to our networks, what content they are accessing and analyse trends.