IPad launch signals a tablet overdose

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This week saw the launch of Apple’s faster, lighter, thinner, shinier iPad 2 tablet device – not that anyone could avoid it.

The launch overshadowed the dozens of tablets revealed earlier this year at Mobile World Congress and the Consumer Electronics Show, with iPad 2 garnering more coverage than the rest of the devices combined.

Apple is no longer alone in the tablet marketplace and internet forums are buzzing with debate about whether, despite the hype, it really is the standout best.

The Motorola Xoom has 4 hours more battery life, the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 has higher resolution, the BlackBerry Playbook is lighter…

The arguments could go on for eternity but the result is not important. The fact they are even taking place shows we are on the verge of a paradigm technology shift.

At the launch event, Apple CEO Steve Jobs coined the phrase “post-PC”, which is symbolic of the way the developed world is now consuming technology (and perhaps a sly dig at Microsoft).

Research company Gartner forecasts PC sales will see a slowdown in growth over the next two years as tablets take over. The company predicts 387.7 million PCs will be sold in 2011 – a 10.5% increase on 2010. It anticipates 54.8 million tablets will be sold in this year, a 35.6% increase on the 19.5 million sold in 2010.

Will those of us looking to upgrade our noisy laptops think of buying yet another whirry, heavy device? Or will we buy a tablet in the same price range?

Digital consumers no longer have the patience to wait for systems to start up, they need information here and now.

They want to take this information to the kitchen when they cook, they want to share the latest video with their friends on the go, they want to find out what their social graph is up to when they wake up in bed at the middle of the night. Tablets fill this need.

Tablets are also increasingly being used in meetings, creating a more intimate atmosphere and encouraging hands-on interaction that a PowerPoint presentation could never offer.

Attention spans have decreased. Consumers skip adverts, they only play apps for a few minutes, they check just the first few paragraphs of the news.

Consumers now flick from screen to screen with ease, without particular loyalty or time investment to one device.

While I would be hesitant to declare 2011 the “year of the tablet”, consumers and advertisers alike are starting to see a real need for ownership of the new breed of devices, beyond having a shiny new piece of kit.

Tablets are no longer for the tech heads, they are for the every day consumer that every brand seeks to reach.

Many marketers have yet to get their heads around mobile, let alone thinking about tablets in their strategies for 2011. But with uptake of tablets set to soar in the coming months it is vital marketers etch the word “tablet” firmly into their advertising plans now before they are beaten to the space by the consumers.

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