With the beginning of the new year, it’s that time again: To make predictions for all things Tablet in 2007.
Here’s my list:
1. Tablet sales will continue to grow. Yeah, that’s an easy one. By how much though? I predict they’ll be just under double from this year. Let’s call it 80% growth.
2. With the launch of Vista and the continued adoption of notebooks as the form factor of choice by more and more consumers, distinct Tablet marketing will get lost in the shuffle. People may use Vista and its Tablet features (such as the handwriting recognition in a Smart Board setup) and not even think in terms of Tablet PCs. Similarly, we’ll see more manufacturers sell Tablets and not even use the word Tablet. Don’t get discouraged, though. This is only temporary. Read prediction 3 to see why.
3. By the end of the year, Tablet PCs as a distinct form factor will make a revival. Why? Because of the competition. What competition you ask? The MIT OLPC for one. UMPC-like devices for another. 2007 will bring more devices with similar capabilities to Tablet PCs (ultra portability, touch digitizers, and so on), and so as the number of “tablet” entrants into the market increases, the value of the Tablet as a Tablet will become better understood and accepted. The result will be that by 2008 we’ll see a renewed growth in Tablet marketing by OEMs and Microsoft.
4. 2007 will be the year of the touch display. We’ll see more displays with touch digitizers built in and more dual digitizer displays with an active digitizer as well as a touch digitizer.
5. More mainstream and existing software products will include Tablet or touch features. For Microsoft there is an obvious reason to further adopt Tablet technologies in its applications. However, I see the trend continuing in other mainstream products during 2007. I’d put Adobe near the top of the list to surprise the market with a Tablet capable app.
6. 2007 will be known as the year of the Tablet in education. The competition to leverage this market will grow to a feverish pitch by mid year among Tablet manufacturers.
7. With all the adoption of Tablets in education and the new Tablet-like devices in the market, the retail channel will finally “get it” when it comes to Tablets. But it’ll be too late for 2007. Expect 2008 to see more Tablets on store shelves, whether it be Best Buy or the local computer store.
8. Consumers will push the market to improve and expand media experiences on UMPCs and Tablets and for that matter all notebooks. The transition will be slow (in large part due to existing business models), but as it does there will be no turning back. The transition will go mainstream sometime during 2008.
9. UMPC sales will flourish in unexpected markets. The result: UMPC marketing will transition from a consumer-focused device to one geared around verticals. As a result, this will open up marketing opportunities for new, consumer-oriented, UMPC-like devices that aren’t UMPCs per se.
10. 2007 will be the year of “more”. Expect more Tablets. More manufacturers. More power. More capabilities. More choices. The consumer will benefit hopefully with lower prices.
11. Related to Prediction #6 and #10: Apple will offer a display with a built-in digitizer. Why? Partly to try to salvage their education sales which will continue to slide as more and more schools go Tablet. Another reason is that the technology is prime time. Good engineers and designers can’t resist forever.
12. The Tablet market will consolidate. Expect at least one Tablet ISV or OEM to earn newscylces as they are acquired–inspiring some analysts and investors to take a fresh look at the Tablet market. On the other end of the spectrum, I expect to see some Tablet PC models and Tablet apps fade away–very likely well known ones.
13. Wireless broadband will continue its expansion among bloggers and other online influentials, but won’t make it into the mainstream until 2008. The carriers in the US will struggle with capturing this growth versus maintaining their current fee structures. The result: Wireless broadband will gets lots of talk but will still not break into the mainstream.
14. Ink and the web will get its due attention, but don’t expect a noticeable number of ink-enabled web apps until after 2007.
OK. That’s my list. How about yours?