Advertisement There is no doubt that the tablet PC (or simply tablet) has become a runaway success. People are buying tablets in droves. A number of people…

Tablets Cannibalise PCs, Laptops and Netbooks; Not Smartphones



There is no doubt that the tablet PC (or simply tablet) has become a runaway success. People are buying tablets in droves. A number of people have wondered exactly if there is a place for the tablet. Yes; there is, but it isn’t what some people probably think it is.

The Desktop/Laptop/Netbook Replacement

Simply put, for the vast majority of people, the tablet is a replacement for their desktop, laptop and netbook. “Impossible!! Some will ejaculate, “Surely, there is no way that a tablet can fully replace a PC; is there?” The truth is that the average consumer use their desktop/laptop/netbook for the following tasks:


  • web browsing, including: email, social networking and downloads
  • multimedia consumption: music, movies and video playback
  • documents viewing: reading of PDF and other documents

The above three broad classifications sum up what the average PC user does on their terminals. All three classification of activities are handled nicely – and in some cases even better – on tablets. This is why the tablet is a very capable replacement for the PC. Add the benefits of greater portability and extended battery life, and it is no big surprise that the tablet has hurt PC sales as we see today.

Highly specialised skills – graphics design, video editing, and other heavy-duty, precision tasks – will continue to need the PC as we know it, perhaps for some time till tablets evolve into more capable devices. But for now, the tablet as we know it is a perfect PC replacement for the average user.


PC Manufacturers Respond

One by one, Pc manufacturers either get the message the easy way or the hard way. Apple got it the easy way. As a matter of fact, they led the revolution. Manufacturer after manufacturer has lost PC sales to the onslaught of the tablet. It has been brutal and shocking, but the statistics say that the PC is losing ground to the tablet. And PC manufacturers are responding by attempting to get a share of the tablet market too. That is the logical move – produce tablets.

The Smartphone; The Mobile King

While the tablet continues to cannibalize PC sales, it hasn’t got anything on the smartphone. The fact is that tablets are not as mobile as smartphones are. Whereas the smartphone goes everywhere with users, many treat tablets the exact way that they treat their laptops and netbooks – fairly inconvenient tools to carry around except when absolutely when needed. A average mobile user who owns both a smartphone and a tablet tends to leave the tablet at home or on the desk in the office more often than not, yet carry the smartphone everywhere. In other words, the tablet is less mobile.

To that extent, the tablet is no real threat to the smartphone, as it is a threat to the PC. As a matter of fact, smartphones are doing some cannibalization of their own. The smartphone keeps eating up the feature phone. As budget smartphones hit new low price points, there is an upward migration by feature phone owners to smartphones.

The Future?

While smartphones and tablets are clearly today’s primary computing devices, who knows what the future will bring? The possibilities are exciting. At some point, we shall see holographic projections, cybernetics, and certainly artificial intelligence become a part of everyday communications technology. Perhaps, some day, mobile will be gone, or for convenience’ sake, we shall just continue to call whatever evolves out of it the same name, “mobile”.

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Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi's journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.

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This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. great article there.

    right to r end, I was looking for the word “phablet”.

    I am convinced I no longer need a tablet.

    what I need is something “small” enough to use as a phone, and bIg enough to use as a tablet – a five point X incher like the Galaxy Note II.

  2. Additionally,

    With the rate the GN II sized devices are being churned out, it s inevitable that some level of smartphone cannibalization is akready ongoing, or will soon start!

  3. I was looking for the word Phablet, which is seriously trying to cannibalize both the PC and smartphone

  4. EyebeeKay,

    I didn’t bother with making a distinction about “phablet” because a phablet really is nothing other than a big smartphone, same as communicators were nothing other than big smartphones back in the day.

  5. One man’s meat is another man’s poison. I use to own a p1000 7 inch tab, p5100 10 inch tab, s6102 galaxy y duos and the samsung galaxy s2. I now only use the p5100 10 inch tab with an lg c333 triple sim phone. The reason is I got so used to browsing on the 10 inch screen that any thing smaller than these will be unacceptable to me.

  6. I always thought I never would need a tablet but with developers out there working bringing in so many apps that were PC specific into rhe tablet landscape, one might not need a Windows anymore at home, getting a tablet with 128GB and USB OTG would make sure I would never need a PC at home

  7. @martinkem, don’t be too quick to dismiss laptops. Tablets have not replaced them. Tablets may be cool when you are watching movies, browsing and reading emails/documents, but they suck at creating documents and transfering files. Typing on a tablet, especially a 10 inch tab can be more frustrating than typing on a phone. Furthermore transfering files to different devices like your flash drive and external hard drives can be very complicated on a tablet. That is why many tablet owners, especially iPad users get frustrated after a while. You need your PC to do anything meaningful. Even the movies you want to watch may have to be transferred from a pc. Thus, I wouldn’t advise anybody who doesn’t own a pc to buy a tablet. Get a pc or make sure you have access to one before you get a tab. Otherwise, do not expect your tablet to replace a pc. You will end up disappointed.
    We see news of record sales of tablets in the developed world and assume they are replacing laptops. The truth is, majority of those people already own a pc at home. Besides, they have cheap internet bundles to access cloud services

  8. OS apart, A Tablet is practically a PC without hardware keyboard.
    If you get a Tab and you have a hardware keyboard, you cant miss anything, if that Tab runs windows too then why get a PC or laptop.
    The only reason left is if you want a bigger screen plus some superawesome power that tabs cant offer.

    Most 10′ Android Tabs are more than capable these days, look at what the GNote10.1 is capable of doing – micro SD, USBOTG, dual windows etc.

    Even the iPad, in its own capacity is doing good and users and manufactures have gone the extra length to make devices that compliment the iPad.

  9. @Bosun, the ipad is a fad. It will fade. Do not forget that a large majority of people that buy ipads already own a pc. Without a pc, the ipad is almost useless. Mkcrosoft surface with full Windows 8 is a tablet that comes very close to replacing a pc but the traditional advantages of tablets over pcs are blunted. For example, battery life will be the same as laptops. Its dimensions and weight are more in tune with ultrabooks than tablets and boot up time is like your normal pc so in essence, you are getting a pc with an attached keyboard not a tablet as we know it. Moreover, Microsoft surface lacks ports and connectivity a full pc has making it an inferior pc.

    I have also noticed that people like to use their tablets without a physical keyboard attached. It makes the tablet more bulky. Bottomline, a tablet is great for reading books, watching movies and surfing the web, but if you have to create content, it doesn’t quite live up to expectation. For a tablet like the iPad, you simply cannot do without a pc.

  10. @Efe

    “the ipad is a fad. It will fade”
    This is what we keep hearing and the iPad keeps selling.

    A Tablet can do without a Laptop.

    The fact that most people do not know how to use it or some don’t have the data to support it does not mean it’s impossible.

    You can set up a Tab totally without a PC and you can get contents onto it without a PC.

    Majority of people that buy iPads/Tabs already own PCs because PC have been around before iPad, what you should look at is, are they buying new PCs as much as they are buying Tabs, records have shown that PC sales are reducing and Tabs sales are increasing.

    You can’t eat your cake and have it.
    A person who complains that typing on a tab is not convenient cannot complain again about hardware keyboards

    Calling a Surface Pro an inferior PC is ………..
    The SPro is more powerful than most PC out there.

    The funny Bottomline is that a tablet is great for reading books, watching movies and surfing the web and this is what Majority do on their Laptops and Tabs are very capable of doing this.

  11. @Bosun, Microsoft Surface is an inferior PC because it lacks features of a full PC. Your android phone is probably more powerful than PCs of a few years ago, is your phone a more capable PC? Surface Pro lacks connectivity ports that are considered standard fare on laptops nowadays.

    If you have data, you can access content with your iPad. True. How is the content you want to access created? Since Nigeria lacks cheap unlimited data, would you advise anybody who doesn’t own a PC to buy an iPad? If yes is your answer, how do you get content without unlimited or cheap data bundles? The average HD movie for a tab is more than 500MB so I wonder how the person will manage to watch movies without connecting to a PC.

  12. @Ife
    Microsoft Surface Pro runs on a core i5 intel with 4gb ram and it has a standard USB 3.0, micro sd, wifi etc. Practically anything can be connected to usb these days.
    Which features makes it inferior and which everyday used connectivity ports does the device lack.

    “If you have data, you can access content with your iPad”
    Very correct.
    It’s natural for people to want to move their data from one device to another. Most people need to connect their tabs to PC because the have data there that they want to move and that’s because they had PC before Tabs.

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