The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tablets May Not Be Killing Off Laptops

The Case of the Dwindling Laptop Sales is still an open mystery. It turns out tablets may not be the culprit after all, at least according to a new survey of tablet owners by market research firm IDC.

Many technology-watchers, noting that tablet sales were rising at about the same pace as laptop sales were falling, assumed there was a direct correlation between the two. The IDC study, conducted last April, contradicts that. Just 8.7% of survey respondents said they bought a new tablet as a laptop replacement while 58.5% specifically purchased the tablet to use in combination with their laptop.

The survey sample wasn’t all that large—only 299 adults—but it shows that consumers buy different devices for different reasons, and don’t want to ditch any of them yet. “A huge percentage of people still see a lot of value in a laptop for one kind of app or service they use on it. Would they want to do their taxes on a tablet? They haven’t quite made the leap to being comfortable with a mobile device like a tablet,” IDC analyst Tom Mainelli told Computerworld.

College students probably fit into that category. A tablet is easier to tote around campus for checking course updates in the learning management system in between classes, for example. A laptop is better for working on papers and projects.

That still leaves the mystery of why laptop sales are down. It’s possible tablets do share some of the blame. After buying the latest tablet, purchasers may not feel the need to upgrade their laptops to a new model. Also, those who use their tablets on the go, such as students, may find their laptops last longer parked at home where there’s reduced risk of theft or breakage.

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