On January 28, 2010, Steve Jobs introduced the iPad to the world. Since then, tablets have been increasingly popular to the point where, today, 28 million Americans own one. Of course Apple didn’t invent the tablet: tablets had existed before the iPad. However, Apple made them relevant, thanks to a revolutionary design, connectivity, the great user interface, and efficient marketing. Let’s try to understand why tablets have known such a success and where there is room for improvement.

For those who still are unfamiliar with tablets, they can be used to check your email, browse the Internet, log in to social media accounts, watch videos, listen to music, check weather forecasts, read a book or a newspaper, play games, and use a wide range of apps. The most skeptical among us would argue that we already have laptops and smartphones to do that, therefore tablets are just a gadget. Five years ago, we heard the same skeptics criticizing smartphones, which now outsell other cellphones. Tablets offer a much more enjoyable customer experience than smartphones, and, unlike laptops, they can be used anywhere (at home, at work, on vacation, on the train, etc.). Tablets offer a true value to the consumer, though there’s room for improvement.

 

The first factor that prevents someone from buying a tablet is probably price. Although tablets provide a range of functions, their cost may be out of reach for most of us. That’s why when HP dropped the price of its TouchPad tablet to $99, a frenzy occurred: even though the TouchPad is not the iPad (we’ll come back to this point later) and even though HP dropped its WebOS line of devices, which means no apps will be added and the software won’t be upgraded, the TouchPad was sold out in a hurry. Of course, having a real competitor to the iPad would help to lower prices. Apple still has a majority (61%) of the market share in tablets. Instead of playing catch-up, Samsung, Nokia, Motorola and others should try to revolutionize the tablet as Apple did two years ago, or at least lower prices. Developing more apps for Android devices would also be useful.

 

Still, tablets have experienced an amazing growth in the last two years, and manufacturers will have to lower prices if they want to compete with Apple (which also needs to lower its prices to remain in the lead). In the future, tablets may very well be as sold as smartphones or laptops, a statement that was once unlikely.