Betting Big On Media Tablets

by Sohini Bagchi    Jul 04, 2012

TabletsWhen the Apple iPad first came to the market, it focused on consumer applications, not enterprises. However, iPad and its competitors started to capture the imagination of enterprise customers in the subsequent tablet wave and in a span of less than two years, the media tablet market underwent a sea change, transforming the way enterprises communicate.

A recent survey by analyst firm Gartner noted that activities that were traditionally carried out on PCs are now shifting to tablets. According to the survey, 81 percent respondents said that they are now using tablets to check emails and for connecting to employees and customers. CXOs, managers and senior executives of enterprises mostly use tablets for various other daily activities. While 50 percent of media tablet owners prefer to read news, magazines and books on screen, rather than on paper, another 62 percent prefer to use this platform for social networking activities.

Enter the Tablet Saga

“The rapid adoption of media tablets is substantively changing how consumers access, create and share content,” said Carolina Milanesi, Research Vice President at Gartner. She said on an average, one in three respondents used their media tablets to read a book, compared with 13 percent for mobile PCs, and 7 percent for mobile phones.

“The prime factor driving the growth of media tablets is its portability. Today when most professionals work on the move, it has become necessary for them to carry such devices. With round the clock connectivity being the need of the hour, demand for media tablets is growing among CXOs,” said Prasenjit Das, Independent IT and Telecom Analyst.

“Media tablets are gaining precedence as a vital business tool due to their form factor and advanced functionalities. These include larger screens, better security and more processing power than the traditional PCs or smartphones,” said Ayan Roy, IT Head, MPS Food Products Limited.
Roy believes that if the last couple of years were marked by the rise of laptop PCs and mobile phones in India, the next five years will certainly be the era of media tablets.

A recent Forrester research also revealed that nearly 30 percent of the tablet market will comprise the enterprise population in 2012. At the same time, there is a probability that tablets will substantially eat a portion of the laptop market, as its sale is expected to be at par with that of laptops by 2013.

PCs are Here to Stay

So, are media tablets going to replace the traditional PCs and mobile phones or are they set to foreshadow a complete shift from paper to screen-only consumption? “Certainly not,” said Gartner’s principal research analyst, Meike Escherich.

“We do not believe that the ‘paperless model’ will prevail, but we are moving towards a ‘less-paper’ age and that’s the reality. Similarly, media tablets aren’t completely replacing PCs or mobile phones,” Escherich explained. He added that corporate executives use their devices interchangeably, rather than substituting one device for another. Rather they seek to use whichever device is at hand - or the most convenient to use at a particular time and for a specific task.

Das agreed that in spite of being such an effective device, media tablets are not going to substitute mobile phones or PCs completely soon, at least in the Indian market. “This is because penetration of media tablets in the Indian market is still not deep enough to reach all categories of users. Even mobile phones and PCs took years to do so. Therefore, media tablets are unlikely to become the single-solution device in the near future,” said he.

The survey also revealed that 45 percent of respondents do not share their tablet, which suggests the devices are treated as personally as mobile phones. Despite this, mobile phones emerged as the device respondents used the most during the day.

The BYOD Concern

Increased usage of tablets and other mobile devices has triggered the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trends in enterprises. As a result, data security has become a big concern for CIOs. To ensure security and support their BYOD efforts, Gartner suggests that enterprises leveraging mobility should develop a strategy that incorporates mobile data protection and network access control.

Roy believes CIOs need to implement effective mobile device management strategies in order to enhance the security of the mobile communications network. “This will allow them to have a complete control of the corporate-owned devices as well as employee-owned devices in organisations,” he said.

Even though some challenges will remain, over time, Gartner said tablets will be the main computing device of communication. The Forrester report also forecasts that tablets will become the central device in computing and the enterprise segment will continue to drive the tablet market. However, Das believes that its success in India will depend on the affordability, quality data connectivity and dedicated and localised content and apps.