Today, CNET wrote an analysis piece called Apple’s quiet iPad launch proves no one cares about tablets which inspired the following thoughts about the mobile device ecosystem:
Some say that a compromise is when no one is happy with the outcome. Such seems to be the case these days with tablets, especially in the face of excellent, lightweight 2-in-1 touchscreen notebooks.Tablets are a compromise that fewer and fewer are willing to make.
Too Little and Too Much
Tablets are essentially phones on growth hormones: an Android or iOS operating system with a big screen, a camera, and sometimes mobile phone and data connectivity. But a tablet makes a terrible phone (and goodness knows we’ve all seen people with huge tablets up to the sides of their heads making a call), and a very awkward camera (e.g. tourists holding full-sized iPads over the edge of the Grand Canyon taking pictures. Selfies? Fuhgeddabouditand!) Plus, try getting a tablet into your back pocket. (Heck, trying getting some newer phones into your back pocket!) The bottom line is that tablets are not portable the way we think about portability in mobile devices these days.
On the other hand, 2-in-1 touchscreen notebooks deliver much of the battery life, and all of the OS and full-strength apps that matter on a full-capability device in a comparable form factor. A 2-in-1 is no LESS portable than a tablet but brings along much more utility that makes lugging it around worthwhile for when you need something better than a big ol’ phablet.
More Convergence Coming
With Apple performing a soft launch on the latest iPad – and all the numbers on tablets decreasing since 2014 – it fair to say we’ve seen the best of what the tablet form factor can deliver. It turns out that the laptop, evolved into the 2-in-1, is the better convergence partner with large-screen phones because each device type compliments the other. However, that’s not to say that convergence is over because it’s not. In the end, there will be one uber mobile tech that will represent the full convergence of mobile and desktop capabilities that will be entirely portable, possibly even in the form of implanted or wearable tech. Phones, tablets, notebooks, etc. all represent intermediate forms to an as-yet unknown device type. But stepping past the science fiction speculation, one thing is clear:
The mobile OS tablet has reached its zenith.
Update: March 22, 2017
Today, Jacob Kastrenakes at The Verge posted this opening comment to a review of the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S3:
I am in productivity hell. For the past week, I’ve been using Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S3 to read Twitter, correspond on Slack, and write articles for this website. The Tab S3 is capable of doing all these things — in some cases, it’s even capable of doing them quite well — but it’s not capable of doing them anywhere near as well as a proper laptop. And in the week I’ve had it, I’ve spent a lot of time wondering why I’d use this tablet as a portable work device instead of a cheaper, more functional computer like a Chromebook.
With sales numbers trending down, Apple’s soft launch, and reviews like these for Android tablets to add to the pile, we rest our case.
One more point: just because the best days are behind the tablet category, iBeta will be continue to add new mobile OS tablets to our extensive mobile device library that we carefully curate for app testing. Our commitment to leading the way in mobile app software testing extends to every device type in use.