Do you remember what happened on April 3rd, 2010? No one famous died. No international wars broke out. What then? It’s the day Apple released the iPad. As with all new Apple releases, the iPad tablet was largely hyped. Many market analysts predicted it would turn into the next iPod in that it would completely re-write the way that popular gadgets are used. In terms of short-term sales, the iPad has met that anticipation with success, selling 28.73 million of the $500+/each devices. Since then, it has spawned dozens of imitators, the most notable being the Samsung Galaxy Tablet. Apple, along with other tablet-producing companies, want you to believe that tablet devices are the way of the future and that laptops are out. But take a step back and think: what is so good about tablet devices? Why are consumers flocking to buy these pricey machines? Are they better than Laptops? In short: internet browsing, they’re cool, no. Let me explain.
The number one most absolute definitive reason that Apple tablets are selling well is because of the name recognition of Apple. Apple is chic. Apple is sexy. Apple reinvented the mp3 player and has defeated imitating companies around every corner with its cutting edge electronic devices. As a consumer, why not run out and buy the newest product that Apple is touting? It’s certainly going to be a hit, right? So, the number one, most obvious reason to go out and buy a tablet isn’t because of pure functionality, it isn’t because of performance, it’s because the things are cool. So far so good.
The second, more reasonable reason to buy a tablet is because tablets seem like they are the way of the future. Whether they really are remains to be seen. Perhaps one day they will be exposed as gimmicky, but for now, apple is too good at making you want one without really wanting one. This suggests that the marketing behind the product is better than the product itself. Aka: hype.
Despite all the hype, tablets perform amazingly well in the business world. Imagine, for example, a small carpet cleaning company. Their business relies on employees being able to find destinations and track their routes in real time via GPS. The capabilities of tablets also allow for the small business owner to track his or her tablets remotely to ensure that employees are getting the job done in a timely manner.
This is an example of a valid reason to buy a tablet. But does the average consumer use tablet devices like that? Of course not: the average consumer uses tablets for two things: surfing the Internet, and apps. I’m going to go ahead and assume that the majority of tablets get used primarily for Internet surfing. Though definitely a nice feature (portable internet) do you really need a tablet to experience it? No, absolutely not. That’s because there’s an aging device, albeit still popular, that does basically everything the tablet does. It’s called a laptop.
Though certainly not as cool as it once was, the laptop possesses raw computing power, hard drive memory, and multitasking functionality that tablets simply cannot match.
Lets look at the raw hardware comparison between the $700 iPad and the $370 Lenovo IdeaPad laptop
Apple iPad 2 Specs:
1 GHz CPU
512 MB RAM
64 GB HDD
10-hour battery life
512 MHz GPU
Decent, right? Lets compare with the $370 Lenovo IdeaPad Laptop
2 GHz Dual-core CPU
4 GB Ram
500 GB HDD
6 cell ion battery (3 hours)
512 MHz GPU
Based on raw stats, in 3 out of the 5 comparisons (the ones that matter: power, memory, speed) the laptop out-muscles the best tablet device available. And not by a small margin, we’re looking at 2-5 times more power than the tablet. The kicker: the laptop costs roughly half as much as the ipad. Those are simply raw numbers. We can look at this in terms of practicality as well. If the laptop breaks, it’s easier to fix than a tablet. Peripherals, like USB cables and removable hard drives are easier to use with a laptop. Laptops are easier to type on. The list could go on and on.
My point is that if you really look at what tablet devices really do versus what they cost, then you will see that they aren’t cost effective at all—even when compared to a cheap laptop (imagine a 700$ laptop vs. an equally priced iPad). But, and I can’t stress this enough: tablets are cool.