Tablets Stomping Out the Competition?

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Remember in "Star Trek: The Next Generation" how Captain Picard's desk was littered with dozens of tablet computers, all of various shapes and sizes, for a variety of tasks? Seems kinda silly nowadays when the iPad came out. One device that could do everything ... nearly. Now we have different shaped iPads, Kindles and other tablets.

Not so silly after all. But what's more surprising is how much the tablet is becoming our go-to computing device, so much so that it's slowly stomping out other devices. Here's some numbers recently collected from our good friend LukeW:

  • E-book readers, solely meant for reading, will plummet this year to 14.9 million shipped, a 36% decrease. By 2016, that number will drop even further to 7.1 million. Tablets that do more than display books are to blame.
  • Notebooks with Windows inside dropped 24% compared to last year. The finger is firmly pointed at tablets and, of course, our smartphones.
  • Tablets are expected to outpace smartphones this year in sales, 9.4% of the 15% of all US mobile sales.

Luke also notes that folks aren't buying devices dedicated solely to one purpose in their lives. That is a no-frills cell phone, a basic "point-and-shoot" camera, you get the idea.

So What Does This Mean?

One thing is that we're expecting more and more out of our devices. We want them to do more. We're no longer satisfied with devices that live for solely one thing.

You might be thinking, "whoa, hold your horses ... does this mean we should start designing solely for tablets then?" Nope. We can't go backwards to the days when we designed specifically for one device. Just because tablets are taking the lead doesn't mean that the tablet will rule the device nest. Quite the opposite, this means now more than ever we need to design for multi-devices in mind.

Here's why: there are still dozens upon dozens of tablets on the market. There's the iPad, it's mini-me, the various Kindles and who knows what else on the horizon. Speaking of tomorrow, there are also smartwatches and, of course, Google Glasses. And we doubt that anyone will toss out their smartphone anytime soon. Well, unless the Blackberry makes a come back (kidding).

Numbers like these just go to show us how imperative it is to design for multiple devices, to do so responsively. It's the only way we can meet the hungry of an ever-growing mobile audience.

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