Tablet Sales Slowdown Reveals Limits to Today's Devices

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-05-05 Print this article Print

My first iPad was WiFi-only. But the old first-generation iPad will still let me take notes with Evernote. The Amazon Kindle app works just as well, and I can play music on either one.

The reason I upgraded to a new tablet has little to do with the new iPad's capabilities beyond its support for LTE, and in reality I don't really need a new iPad for that. So what does the iPad need? What do tablets in general need to attract customers at a greater rate?

To attract business customers, tablets, including the iPad, need to support the needs of business rather than forcing business users make concessions to the device's functional limits. While there are certainly plenty of iPads in use in corporate environments, it's not always a happy marriage.

Apple iPads lack the ruggedness and serviceability that business users expect. Especially in a sales floor, warehouse or manufacturing environment where a tablet could be a natural fit, consumer tablets simply aren't up to the task.

There are, of course, a few tablets and tablets with detachable keyboards that are aimed at business users. Some of these devices can be serviced on-site; they are relatively rugged, meaning they're not slim and light, and for the most part, they run Windows 8.1 Pro.

By using a professional version of Microsoft Windows, these tablets give business users the security they need and the application support they want. While Microsoft Office is now available for the iPad, it's always been available for Windows and with the Windows tablets, you can print to any printer in the enterprise.

Of course, even if the uptake in business use were to grow substantially, it wouldn't necessarily be enough to kick start tablet sales. What's needed there as many observers have noted is something more. There needs to be a useful new feature that makes business users suddenly decide in mass that they need to upgrade.

Unfortunately, it's not clear what that something might be. Right now, tablets are a sort of technological one-trick pony. They do what they do nicely, but that's all that they do. While you can force a tablet into new roles, that doesn't make it a happy fit.

The result is what you see; users have the one tablet they need and won't buy another unless there's something such as support for LTE that makes them want to spend the money. But it needs to be something bigger than just better radios.


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