What’s the future of laptop PCs versus tablets?

I received the following question from a reader and it started me thinking….
With the recent popularity of tablets, do you think in the near future tablets will replace netbooks or stay as a substitute? If you think tablets and netbooks are going to continue competing against one another, do you think the demand for netbooks will decline but not perish? Thanks!
He raises an interesting question, but I’m going to expand it just a bit to ask an even bigger question: Are tablet computers going to eclipse and ultimately replace laptop computers in the marketplace?
I have the most popular devices — two laptops (one Mac, one PC) and two tablets (an iPad 2 and an Android-powered Kindle Fire) — so I can start by discussing my own experience. With both a Mac and PC, I definitely spend more time on the Macintosh side. Less viruses and a more aesthetically pleasing user experience works for me.
kensington keyfolio ipad case keyboardOn the tablet side, it’s a bit more complicated because I’m more of an information producer than consumer, and I believe that in their current instantiation, tablets are optimal for consuming data, not creating it. As a result, I find that I use my iPad for reading ebooks (though I just got the new Umberto Eco novel, so I’ll be switching to paper for a while to enjoy the full kinesthetic experience) and for entertainment, especially on airplane flights.
The Kindle Fire is still so new that I’m trying to figure out what it offers over and above a great form factor with its crystal-clear 7-inch screen and low price tag. Kindles are still optimal for digital books and magazines, and I’m working out how to get my own movies, music, and reference PDFs onto the device.
When I watch people coming out of the Apple Store, there are at least as many MacBook Air buyers as iPad buyers, another data point.
Television and radio are all about consumption. The Internet and our always-on world is just as much about publishing and production, however, and that plays a major part in this discussion.
Facebook reports over 250 million photos are uploaded each day. Tapping in a sentence or two is no problem, but anything longer and you’re moving into the gray area of adding a wireless keyboard to your tablet or mobile device. Isn’t it then essentially a laptop?
I believe that we’re heading towards a hybrid world where the average user will have a tablet computer, either running iOS or Android, that will neatly slip into a case that includes more storage, additional ports and a keyboard. We’ll have a second ‘travel’ case that’s slim and offers additional battery power. Between the two we’ll have a tablet that’s also a laptop, the best of both worlds.

2 comments on “What’s the future of laptop PCs versus tablets?

  1. i personally have a tablet and a laptop, they both have their own uses but i don’t use one more than the other. However tablets are getting more and more popular. interesting read, thanks

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