Will Tablet PCs Become Redundant Soon?
The latest generation of large-screen smartphones now provides a viable alternative to a tablet PCs, with the latter showing strong signs of decline in recent times. A number of research report in recent times suggests that the that early enthusiasm for tablets has worn off owing to weaker customer satisfaction and slowing sales growth.
The gradual dip
The latest survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) showed consumer satisfaction with tablets plummeted this year by 6 percent. Claes Fornell, ACSI Chairman and founder. “As large-screen smartphones become more popular, they’ve made tablets somewhat redundant —caught in between the mobility of a smartphone and the power and functionality of a desktop.”
According to the report, this year, consumers rated tablets are ranked at 75, from 81 last year, alongside laptops, which also showed a dip. In fact, Desktop computers, with an ACSI score of 81, had a better overall satisfaction rating, while tablets and laptops dragged down the entire industry.
An eMarketer report too sees the growth in the global tablet-using population will slow dramatically in 2015 and continue to taper off. The total number of tablet users is expected to increase by 17 percent this year. While this figure is healthy, it pales in comparison with year-over-year gains of 54 percent in 2013 and 29 percent in 2014. By 2018, the growth rate for new tablet users worldwide will be just 7.9 percent.
“A key factor for this slowing growth is that tablets face increased competition from smartphones and a widening array of connected devices, including phablets, wearables, connected TVs and dedicated gaming devices, particularly in late-adopting countries like Japan and South Korea,” the research firm said adding that the use case for tablets is not always clear, particularly in markets where smartphone and phablet usage is robust.
“The shared nature of tablets and increased competition from other connected devices reduce the likelihood that the tablet audience will match the size of the smartphone audience worldwide,” said Cathy Boyle, senior analyst at eMarketer. “The most limiting factor is the use case for a tablet: It is not as clear-cut or compelling as a communication tool—the core capability and use case for a smartphone.”
iPads - an exception
Although consumers are clearly losing their love for tablets, Apple’s iPads buck the trend, says the survey. Of the 2,946 people surveyed across the United States, 17 percent of them had iPads.
The rest were likely lumps in all those inherently disappointing, low-end Windows 8 and Android tablets. ASCI said basically non-Apple tablets are “well below Apple in customer satisfaction.”
“Though Apple no longer accounts for the majority of all tablets sold, the iPad continues to set the bar for the industry,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI Director said in a statement.
“Unless the industry make substantial differentiation in the value proposition for potential customers, tablet shipments are not going to grow,” Faisal Kawoosa, Lead Analyst, CMR Telecoms Practice says in a statement. With not much value addition coming in the shape of specific solutions to enhance device usability at the moment, tablets are only becoming devices of convenience, essentially larger screen versions of smartphones, he states.
More hard work
Based on the ASCI survey, experts believe, PC manufacturers have a lot of work to do to improve customer satisfaction. Users of desktops, laptops and tablets rated nearly every aspect of their experience - from purchase to performance- lower than last year.
While the availability of software, apps and accessories continues to rate high, customer perception of system crashes and processor speed dropped 4 percent. Again, the report noted, this is probably due to higher expectations for what these devices should do. Satisfaction with call centers dropped to a new low of 70.
Faced with stiff competition and a decline in sales, some manufacturers have focused on price to boost business. However, it may not be a sustainable model in the long run.
“What customers really want most is quality and innovation, says VanAmburg. “They’re willing to pay the price, in so far as they can afford it. At the end of the day, they would like to have a better product that they’ve got to pay a little more for.
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