Last year I read an article which provoked such a strong reaction that I clipped it to Evernote and set a reminder to revisit it a year later.
A year later, my reaction hasn’t changed. The article was entitled, “Our Love Affair With the Tablet is Over,” and I still disagree with much of what the author wrote.
Yes, tablet shipments are down. We’ve covered that trend on TeleRead, but does it mean we don’t love our tablets? Maybe not. I think declining shipments say less about how much we love them and more about how we don’t upgrade them as often as our phones. That makes sense to me. I use my phone heavily enough that I need to charge it every night. I don’t charge my iPad that often. Part of that is that the battery life on the iPad is really good. The other is that there are days when I have time to use my tablet heavily, and days when I don’t.
So let’s talk tablet vs. phone usage. At the end of the article I referenced, the author said:
Cue the sad music for the tablet we all loved, and that many still do. Except now as I glance over at my original iPad, iPad mini, Kindle Fire and Motorola Xoom, acting like paperweights, I realize I don’t miss them — especially when I am curled up with my five-inch phone fitting comfortably in one hand.
I have a five-inch phone. It’s better for web browsing and email than was my old iPhone 4S, but I still turn to my iPad for heavy web browsing. I also use my iPad for video. Sure, I can (and have) watched video on my phone, but I do prefer the larger screen. I don’t read books on my phone. Again, I can, but I do find the screen to be a bit too small to hold in two hands and too large to comfortably hold in one. (I do have small hands.) My iPad and Kindle are more comfortable to curl up with.
Then there is work. Yes, I could write on my phone, but the iPad screen is more comfortable. I prefer to take notes on the larger screen. Often, I need access to a PDF in a meeting, and my iPad is far preferable to my phone.
Are tablets sufficient as “the only device you’ll ever need?” No. They work best as a supporting device. They are too big to be the only device to carry, and laptops and desktop computers still have their place. Even phablets aren’t quite it. While big enough for many uses, when it comes to work-related activities, I think they are still too small.
Not everyone agrees with me, which is okay. The iPhone 6 Plus obviously met a need. I’m surprised at how many of them I see in my travels. However, when it comes to seeing people at work in a coffee shop, I rarely see people working on their phones. I see lots of people working on their tablets.
I could be wrong. I didn’t think smartphones would take off. I assumed more people would want to use a device, like a Palm Pilot, that wasn’t always connected. I called that one way wrong. However, I think tablets have proved their worth, and we’ll continue to see some sort of tablet device in the future. I can’t believe everyone wants to do everything on a phone-sized device. Well, at least not until the phones have heads-up displays or projection capability. That might spell the end of the tablet. Or maybe not.