Mitch Cline, Accenture
USA: The tablet is the world’s hottest consumer electronics product. According to Accenture’s 2011 Consumer Electronics Products and Services Usage Report, tablet computers will sell at a faster growth rate (160 percent) in 2011 than 17 other technologies, including ebook readers (133 percent), BluRay players (120 percent), mobile phones (56 percent), desktop and laptop computers (39 percent), smartphones (26 percent) and netbook computers (22 percent).
Why are tablets experiencing such a growth rate? The rapidly accelerating use of consumer technologies in the enterprise and the desire for corporate employees to always be connected is a major driver. The other reason is the number of applications designed for tablets, which will soon equal the number of applications for desktop and laptop computers.
Statistics from Accenture’s research also underscore both the rise of the tablet market and the decline of the traditional PC. Only 17 percent of those surveyed plan to buy a desktop or laptop computer in 2011 – a 39 percent drop from 2010.
Accenture’s research focused on consumer electronics usage and spending patterns of 8,000 consumers in four developed markets (United States, France, Germany and Japan) and four emerging markets (Brazil, China, India and Russia). One thousand consumers in each country were surveyed.
Emerging vs. developed markets
Use of tablet computers varies widely among the eight countries surveyed. Respondents from emerging countries are more enthusiastic buyers of tablet computers (11 percent of those surveyed) than those from developed countries (4 percent). Of the 640 total survey respondents who said they own a tablet, 134 of them are based in China.
Most popular tablet PC apps
The majority of the 640 respondents who own a tablet use it most often for media consumption and email. Specifically, they are using it for browsing the web (76 percent), checking email (75 percent), watching videos (64 percent), and reading books, newspapers and magazines (63 percent).
Consumers in emerging countries use their tablet computers for a broader range of activities than those living in developed countries. The largest differences are in tweeting and microblogging – 41 percent of emerging country respondents use a tablet computer for microblogging compared with only 27 percent of respondents in developed countries. Tweeting or microblogging was particularly low in France (15 percent), the United States (26 percent) and Germany (27 percent).
Within the consumer electronics market, 2011 could be a break-out year for the tablet computer in terms of investment, new products, technological evolution and new applications. A tipping point has been reached and industry players must get on board. With an exponential growth in application development for tablets and a growing number of employees wanting to use tablets at work instead of their traditional desktops and laptops, the need to expand enterprise mobile enablement will be essential.
As tablet computer manufacturers look to address enterprise security concerns and gradually increase their ability to support enterprise applications, the affordability of tablet computers could be increasingly attractive to chief information officers. Sales representatives within companies are among the earliest adopters of tablet computers. Other departments could soon follow. With momentum behind tablet computers, the industry is going to see a steep change in innovation around the computing paradigm at home and at work, with potential benefits for consumers and employees alike.
The author is global MD of Accenture’s Electronics & High-Tech practice. He can be reached @ firstname.lastname@example.org!