2011 'tipping point' in move away from PC devices

Employers to buy 10 million tablet computers: Deloitte

Tablets and smartphones are growing in popularity and in 2011, more than one-half of computing devices sold globally will not be PCs. And more than one-quarter of all tablet computers will be bought by employers, according to a report by Deloitte.

“Like kids in a candy store, consumers and enterprises will be excited, yet overwhelmed by the sheer variety of options available to them,” says Duncan Stewart, director of Deloitte Canada research and co-author of Deloitte’s 2011 Canadian TMT Predictions. “With PCs, netbooks, tablets and smartphones, buyers must choose among a wide array of functionalities, platforms, operating systems, sizes, features and price points.”

While PC sales are likely to reach almost 400 million units, Deloitte’s estimate for combined sales of smartphones, tablets and non-PC netbooks is well above that amount. Companies will buy more than 10 million tablet computers this year.

“Traditional PCs will still be the workhorse computing platform for most of the globe in 2011,” said the report. “However, 2011 marks the tipping point as we move from a world of mostly standardized PC-like devices to a far more heterogeneous environment.”

Four factors are driving enterprise tablet adoption, said Deloitte. First, many consumers who buy tablets as personal media devices are discovering they are useful for work. Second, certain industry sectors seem poised to use tablets in large numbers (such as retail, manufacturing and health care) because of the device’s ease of use, long battery life, lack of moving parts, minimal need for training and rapid application-development environment. Third, software providers are responding to Fortune 500 customer requests for tablet-specific software. Fourth, the tablet is driving adoption in the boardroom because it can be placed flat on a conference table and accessed unobtrusively.

For an enterprise, a key challenge will be deciding whether to support multiple types of tablets or standardize on a single type, said Deloitte. And as employees are increasingly being allowed to pick their own devices, the cost for IT departments to manage a mixed network of both PCs and non-PCs is likely to be much higher.

"Probably the biggest change for this year for consumers is the need to choose which device to buy. For enterprises, the question is which devices to support," said Richard Lee, Deloitte Canada's national TMT leader. “‘Should we buy a tablet? If so, which tablet? Should we standardize on a smartphone or support multiple devices?’ It's an utterly different computing world from only two years ago. "

Deloitte’s predictions are based on research, interviews and input from Deloitte clients and alumni, industry analysts, global TMT executives and more than 7,000 Deloitte TMT member firm practitioners.

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