Apple iPad, Kindle Sales Warn of Coming Tablet Tsunami

News Analysis: The iPad, Kindle and other tablets deliver such new levels of portability and ready access to information that IT managers better get ready to support them.

Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle are effectively two sides of the same coin. They are highly portable in their own right, and they are well-connected, meaning the information they need to make them useful is highly portable as well. Of course, tablets and e-readers are different devices-they are aimed at different markets, have differing capabilities and perform different, but related, functions.

It should be no surprise that the sales of both are similar. Apple has sold about 3.5 million iPads. Amazon has sold about 3 million Kindles if analyst reports are correct. And, of course, there are other e-readers also selling well. The iPad costs quite a bit more than the Kindle, but it does more, so again, no surprise. But in reality the story of tablet computing goes beyond the iPad or the e-readers.

What we're seeing right now is the first ripple in what will eventually transform much about how information is consumed. The explosion of tablet sales is probably a few months away, but when it happens, a great deal will change, and you can see the beginnings in how these devices are being used now. We're already seeing the iPad make inroads into the enterprise, for example, and the Kindle is changing how the written word is consumed-content for this device is already outselling traditional print at Amazon.

But it's what's going to happen next that matters most. Once the tablet format becomes generally available and more fully capable of being integrated into the enterprise, you can expect that it will form a new niche for hardware at your company. It's similar in some ways to what happened when laptop computers started becoming affordable enough to take the place of desktop computers-they started selling in huge numbers and have now topped the older format in sales. Tablets will eventually do this to laptops.

But this does not mean that tablet computers will kill off laptop computers, any more than laptops got rid of desktop machines. They will coexist and form a third tier of hardware that you will need to support, and that will need to become part of your enterprise. But you can be assured that they will come.

The reason, of course, is that the people who work for your company need information readily available, and they need access to that information if they are to keep up with the pace of business. With the business world moving to a 24/7 model, the people who live in this world need information all of the time. This is why they've bought laptop computers in record numbers and why they will buy tablet computers in numbers that are at least as large.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...