PC'S vs. Tablet Computers: And The Winner Is......

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It wasn't all that long ago that tablet computers were considered a novelty, a new tech toy, a diversion. There's a period—a very tense one for those who have a stake in new technology—when the public takes its time and collectively votes yea or nay on embracing the new tech. By this process, 8-tracks give way to cassettes, vinyl albums were overtaken by compact discs (which in turn are now challenged by MP3's), and videotapes lost their market to DVDs. The introductory period for tablet computers looks to be over now, and consumers are purchasing them in increasing numbers. The question now is if, and when, tablets will overtake personal computers and laptops as the computing system of choice.

PC Advisor magazine makes the point that even though tablets are more portable and convenient for consumers, for the time being they're still considered secondary computing devices, with PCs and notebooks still the primaries. Put another way, tablets are complementary devices to PCs, but not replacements. However, Business Insider offers the following caveat:

In mature markets, the PC is saturated. And that's where tablets are secondary devices. [NPD DisplaySearch Senior Analyst Richard] Shim says in emerging markets tablets are going to be primary devices. If the tablet takes off there, that kills the traditional PC's chances of ever growing again.

An ominous prediction for PC and laptop manufactures if true. Even though the PC is currently on the top of the tech mountain, the rising popularity of tablets shows them gaining ground quickly.

The takeover, if it occurs, isn't likely to happen overnight, however. PCs and laptops still offer higher processing speeds, faster and clearer video presentation, more storage, physical keyboards, and easier compatibility with peripherals such as printers and scanners, when compared to tablets. Rest assured, though, that the R&D departments of tablet computer manufacturers are busily at work overcoming these obstacles. When the differences between PCs and tablets become less obvious, the competition will intensify.

For the time being, no one's claiming tablet computers will completely replace PCs and laptops. However, when it comes to sales and overall popularity, the question isn't if, but when, tablet sales will outpace stationary computing systems. And it looks like it will happen soon. Tech-Thoughts predicts tablet shipments will outnumber those of PCs by the end of 2013, and International Digital Times is estimating tablets will outsell both PCs and laptops as early as 2015.


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