The Rise of the Tablet

The tablet as we know it all began with the iPad, released in 2010. Interestingly, the iPad was in the research and development phase at Apple when its touchscreen technology was appropriated internally by Apple, for the release of the iPhone in 2007.

But whatever its genesis, the tablet has certainly changed the computing paradigm, with a seemingly relentless rise in popularity since its frankly quite recent appearance.

Significant web traffic flows to tablets, with 10% of total traffic expected to be viewed on the platform by 2014.

And users are affluent, making significant online purchases via their tablets - on iPads in particular.

There are of course other tablets (detractors call them imitators of the iPad), and tablets have been around for years, with their Windows-running ancestors easily predating the iPad.

It wasn't until the arrival of the iPad that we as consumers began a wholesale adoption of this computing format. And Android and Blackberry-based tablets are now widely available and gaining in popularity.

Nearly 60% of tablet sales at the moment are for the larger format 9/10 inch models, the iPad included. But there is a new form factor in the 7 inch tablet, and it is expected that a third of the tablet market will be for this midsize type by 2013. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 are proving wildly popular, with industry commentators noting that for once Apple had been left behind in not producing a model in this format. But the iPad Mini, announced this autumn, extends Apple's market share into this niche.

The most significant development in this nascent market must be the Microsoft Surface, a tablet that will run either the new Windows 8 operating system, or its cut down version, Windows RT.

One criticism of tablets is that they are largely used largely for the purposes of media consumption. With its built-in keyboard, the Surface is being positioned as a device that can be used instead of a laptop, as a media creator. It may not be the first time that Microsoft have come late to a market, only to dominate it thoroughly. Apple, Google and RIM beware!

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