While the popularity of the iPad and the tablet market in general is difficult to deny, the recent sales numbers show that it could be slowing down. During Apple's most recent earnings report, the company revealed that sales of the iPad in Q1 dropped to 16.35 million, from the 19.48 million that were sold in the same time from a year ago.
This raises the question of why this could be happening.
In a recent article from CITEworld, Matt Rosoff attempted to answer it. Apple CEO Tim Cook blamed inventory shifts for the drop. While there is a case to be made for that, Rosoff points to something different - how the tablet is thought of.
Despite being a mobile device, the iPad should be thought of as something closer to a computer than a smartphone. Many users are purchasing tablets to handle basic computing needs and more advanced services with the right applications. With no contract incentive to upgrade like those that come with the smartphone, users are more likely to wait when new models come out.
However, Rosoff makes the case that the enterprise landscape is going to help boost tablet sales. Initially, an iPad deployment was handled as adding a companion piece of technology. But as the devices have matured, they can now start becoming primary computing tools. This means that when it becomes time to upgrade, more employees will start asking for tablets or hybrid devices instead of a tradition laptop or desktop.
"The enterprise tablet market is actually where things get much more interesting. For the most part, I don't think tablets are going to replace PCs on desks, or laptops and smartphones for mobile workers," Rosoff wrote. "I do think some mobile information workers who do a lot of keyboard-mouse work will be more likely to buy their own hybrids, then use them for both personal and work."
He added that many organizations he has spoken with are just starting to use tablets as a main computing tool. This was seen earlier this week during the CITE Conference, which just wrapped up in San Francisco. Many panelists and attendees were using tablets as a replacement for pen and paper for note taking and during presentations.
This is improving operations by a factor of 30, the same kind of numbers that were experienced when the PC first started taking hold. Now, lightweight tablets are offering productivity increases that is needed as more employees are entering the digital world for the first time.
With the help of an IT consulting firm that specializes in mobile and iOS management, any organization can embrace tablets as a computing tool.