The blurred lines between tablets, laptops, cellphones ­ trending to the future?


I am a tech aficionado which you probably have guessed already from some of the articles written here. I was taken back by some of the feedback of the readers and I thought I would fire up my pen again to share with you my opinions on the changing landscape of the laptop, tablet device market today. I believe the technologies we have now will merge into one powerful form in the future that will make our daily lives a hundred folds better than it is today. In order to better appreciate what I am trying to say, I wanted to break down some of the technology trends
of today.


  1. The tablet market is diminishing and confirmed year to year by the sales of popular iPad.
  2. The laptop market is on the rise again as witnessed by Intel’s increase in sales of its chip.
  3. Cellphone market continues to be on the rise with no signs of abating.
  4. Desktops have lagged over the years and continue to do so.
  5. The TV market continues to grow with better displays.


What does this all tell you?

To me, it says a lot about end users activity which is what typically drives manufacturers and how they should position their products in the market. Let’s look at each of these devices and their functions and maybe we can get a better idea of how and why the marketing trends are changing.


The ubiquitous tablet

The introduction of the iPad many years ago by Apple hailed the dawn of tablets and sent a flurry of activity for other companies to take advantage of this growing market. Most notably Samsung has done well to capture the Android market with their Galaxy brand and a majority of tablets are now manufactured in China making it very affordable for the whole of the community.


The laptop market

This market has been the mainstay for many years of many of the leading companies such as HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus and others. When the tablet market came into existence it threw a questionable mark towards the necessity of laptops for many users. For a majority of users, the function of a laptop can be divided into two categories. Productive users who do their business at work and take it to their homes and home users who typically use it to browse the internet and write those occasional emails.


The cellphone market

This is most fiercely competitive market for companies and the largest loss or gains for any company if they don’t get it right. For example, Nokia and HTC were hugely popular only a few years ago, but Samsung took away a major slice of this market which led to financial woes for HTC. The only company who seems untroubled by this competition is Apple with their unique blend of operating systems and phones. They have largely enjoyed a unique position in this market due to its huge Apple fan base, a tribute to the genius of late Steve Jobs. Apple phones and its market just seems to be growing while a hot battle for the Android market phones seem to have all other companies on the edge. However, Samsung so far seems to enjoy the top position for the Android phones but there is heavy competition from newcomers especially in the form of Chinese companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi. One can only guess how this market will pan out.


The desktop market

It is no surprise that this market has gone through a steady beating over the years since the ‘other’ new devices came around the block, namely laptops and tablets. However, desktops still have their own niche market such as in business, gamers, high performance computing etc. Laptops have been the contributor of the biggest dent in the desktop market due to its same level of business effectiveness with the added features of portability and versatility.


Where does this leave us now?

I am of the opinion that the market has changed to a level where consumers and businesses need versatility, portability and extensibility from their devices. Do not forget that a major driving force for these devices are the software and applications that are used with these devices. Manufacturers are now blurring the line between laptops and tablets by offering 2­in­1 devices where a laptop can be folded to become a tablet and vice versa. The line between cellphones and tablets are also disappearing with the bigger screen sizes of cellphones ie. 5 inch plus. Funnily enough when I first won the Galaxy Note 1 back in 2011 from a Samsung online competition, people could not believe the size of the phone and always looked at me in amazement.


I have always said that the TV would become a central part of the device infrastructure but unfortunately, this has not happened. It’s possible that the manufacturers are too busy serving the demands of users today to be thinking about that. Although they seemed to be providing ‘smart’ TVs, it is still in it’s infancy.


A snapshot of the future

We need to think outside the box in order to envision an ideal world where these numerous devices come to one collective device. After all, isn’t that what seems to be happening to the market, are we not converging into a unified device?


Device (iMe)

I have called this ideal device ‘iMe’ since it is the only device that a user will use to communicate and interact with the vast underlying knowledge base of information, be it at work or play. In order to appreciate this scenario without thinking of the actual device too much, lets look at typical everyday functions of a user.


  1. At work -­ The user needs to be able to access some of the office product suites in order to go about their daily business. In addition, they need email and probably access to a cloud sharepoint type service where they can share data. There maybe other applications such as accounting system, HR systems, work applications, IM messaging etc.
  2. At home – ­ The user may bring home the work that needs to be completed. The usage will be mainly for entertainment, housekeeping (bills) and others ie. picture file sharing, IM, skype and more.


We can probably get a sense of idea of what a universal device might look like. From the functional description shown above, we can deduce at first sight that a laptop would be a good fit. However, depending on the user’s location ie. on the road or home, the thought of pulling out a laptop to look at emails seems overkill and using your phone to do some productive work seems too cumbersome. Perhaps here, the tablet may fit the job. However, we know that tablets do have their limitations and maybe the reason for the introduction of the 2­in­1 device that is slowly growing in prominence.


We can see some trends in technology to meet these deficiencies and gaps, for example the cloud service was designed to consolidate file sharing where you don’t have to keep local files and find ways to share with other people or devices. The 2­in­1 tablet device allows the flexibility of the tablet as well as the productive use of a laptop. Cell phone screen sizes are growing from year to year allowing you to do more on the device, thus blurring the line of tablets.


The ideal device in my mind is to have one unique device that goes with you wherever you go to fulfill all the requirements of the daily functions from one unique device. Perhaps over the years, the phone can mutate into a larger device with the press of a button and then have its own keyboard. We see that technologies that may make this possible come in the form of voice control, gestures and even flexible lcd screens. We even have a device that was shown recently in the popular TED talks of a projector that hangs around your neck. This device projects images to any surface and even presents a keyboard that you can type along with gesture controls. Perhaps google glass may pave the way for the ‘unified’ single device. We also have virtual devices which may have unique abilities for the single device.


Time will tell how technology coupled with users need for flexibility and versatility will shape the future devices that we use to interact with information. Perhaps all this technology will converge into a powerful and cohesive way to create a unique device that serves the needs of all usage we can possibly think of.

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