Are Tablets the Future of Personal Computing?

With PC sales on the decline, tablets are picking up the slack as the technology of choice for cost and size savvy consumers all over the world.

Sales of personal computers will fall 7.8 percent this year, according to market researcher IDC, while tablets will see an increase of almost 60 percent this year to 229.3 million a pace which has the handheld computing devices set to take over desktop computers by 2015.

The fantastic growth and diversity spawning in the tablet space is spawning from demand for a lower cost alternative to Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad. Market competition from other tech giants including Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), Samsung (SSNLF.PK), and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is slated to bring down the price of tablets 11 percent this year, to $381.

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Consumers seem to want continually smaller computing devices, with the advent of the iPad mini, and all of its competitors are working to make the devices as conveniently sized as possible. Furthermore, overall demand for computing power makes owning a new desktop less and less appealing, with the most basic of needs satisfied elegantly on various tablets.

An often overlooked niche in the PC space, DIY desktops are also facing a precarious market position as momentum is moving away from them. Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) has announced that it is leaving the motherboard manufacturing space, expressly indicating a move towards mobile and more compact computing. As desktops have been forced to adapt in response to all the market competition from other sources, those looking to build their own computers see the market running away from them, with all of the ports and slots needed to customize one’s PC getting more and more consolidated. With Intel leaving the motherboard space, the future of DIY PC’s remains uncertain for all but the most dedicated, with high-end gamers already shopping other places for more expensive motherboards.

Not everyone is so optimistic about tablets, though. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins has his doubts about the future of tablet devices. Issuing some pretty bleak words for the handheld computers, the chief executive commented, “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” adding, “Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

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The words have some wondering whether or not BlackBerry will follow up its ill-fated Playbook device, which saw the company unable to get rid of the inventory that it had purchased. Heins has indicated that his company will not return to the tablet space unless he is sure it can be profitable and that, “I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat.”

Instead, Mr. Heins appears to be putting his faith in the future of phones, with their computing power ever increasing. The BlackBerry Q10 has been selling in the U.K. for about a month now, and initial signs were positive, according to Heins. With competition pushing phones to ever higher computing achievements, in the long run, Mr. Heins could be right, and sales of his company’s Q10 could be a catalyst in the future movement he predicts away from tablets, should they be strong.

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