The latest IDC study published today on tablets being adopted by European enterprises in the U.K, France and Germany show that the tablet as a category is falling into two distinct camps. The market is bifurcated and will continue to be so going forward between standalone tablets and the newer tablet-notebook hybrid.
Marta Fiorentini, senior research analyst, IDC EMEA Personal Computing states that "a large share of tablets are already being used by employees as their only work tool, either replacing traditional client devices or for functions previously not supported by any computing device. As digitalization transforms business processes and tablets are optimized for business functions from both a hardware and application standpoint, we can only expect an increase in the share of standalone tablets, as confirmed by the purchase intentions of the study respondents."
Portable Hybrid 2-in-1 Computers
According to the study, tablets are the only business device for 40% of users which is rather surprising. This percentage, however, increases significantly for 2-in-1s or convertibles, as these hybrid products are deployed to replace portable and desktop PCs thanks to the option of being used with a keyboard. This has been observed across the vast majority of user groups since the keyboard functionality eliminates the need for an additional device dedicated to productivity tasks.
The study also shows that hybrids — in either the detachable or convertible form factor — are usually purchased with larger screen sizes than tablet slates. Indeed, while just over 10% of all slates have a screen size larger than 11in., the current percentage for hybrids is almost 30% and this is expected to surpass 50% over the next couple of years, reinforcing the assumption that 2-in-1s and convertibles can be a replacement for portable PCs.
In spite of the cannibalization effect on traditional client device markets, standalone commercial tablets are also creating a huge opportunity for device makers. "Tablets are already used by waiters instead of pen and paper, by doctors and nurses to replace paper-based files, or by pilots as a substitute for bulky manuals," Fiorentini said. "These are only a few examples, and this is where the growth opportunity lies. IDC calculated that in 2014 this incremental market accounted for almost 6% of tablets used as standalone in the U.K., France, and Germany. We expect this percentage to increase quickly in these three countries and exceed 20% over the next 24 months."
The study noted that workers who perform all or the majority of their activities on the road, in the field, or facing customers are more likely to rely solely on their tablets. Operation agents and production workers equipped with tablet slates, for instance, use them as their only work device in respectively 55% and 64% of cases. In comparison, only 38% of executives and 44% of white-collars work only on their tablet slates.
Tablet + Desktop Professionals
The use of tablets as standalone or companion devices has a strong correlation with the user's job role. User groups usually associated with activities involving document creation or editing, such as executives, marketing, sales, engineers, or white-collar employees (including analysts, consultants, doctors, legal, journalists, etc.) tend to use their tablets — especially slates — in addition to desktop or portable PCs.
A Good Technology Report published in May showed that Apple's iOS still dominates the Enterprise Market by a Wide Margin with iPad Activations at a whopping 81%. With Apple and IBM continually advancing new mobile apps across major professions with MobileFirst, it's not surprising to see the iPad's activation rate so high in the enterprise.
Currently Apple has yet to address the Hybrid segment of the market. Wintel is making a huge push into this market segment which will dramatically rise with the arrival of Windows 10. The new OS will seamlessly marry desktop and mobile device operating systems with a new continuity feature which will be ideal for the enterprise and IT departments.
It's been rumored for years that Apple is working on an iPad Pro model, a form of hybrid that would also include the introduction of Apple's first digital pen. Unfortunately the rumors of such a device keep extending its arrival. The latest rumors push it out to sometime in 2016.
While the trends are clearly showing that the hybrid device segment should be a market that Apple finally addresses, forecasting its arrival is proving to be futile.