TechSpot: Death of the tablet in 5 years, or is it too soon?

In a recent interview with the Milken Institute Conference, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins gave his opinion of where tablets might be going in the next five years, sparking a virtual firestorm of heated discussions all over the Web: “In five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore,” he told an interviewer, according to Bloomberg. “Maybe a big screen in your workplace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.”

This will probably come as a bit of a surprise to anyone who has followed reported statistics on tablet buying habits; in fact, one research firm reported just this past month that the global tablet market hit a whopping 40.6 million units shipped just in the first quarter of 2013. Another study from Gartner looking at predicted tablet sales worldwide expects the market to grow to 3 billion units sold by 2017.

There are wildly differing viewpoints on whether or not the tablet is on its way out, as you might guess. One perspective is that of the smartphone taking over what the tablet does; which is basically content consumption and creation, albeit the latter on a more limited scale than, say, a standard desktop or convertible Ultrabook.

Read: "Dead in five years": The reports of the tablet's demise are greatly exaggerated

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I've never heard any more line of bs. in my life..

Yes, because a device that's so popular that it's slowly hurting PC sales is going to be extinct in 5 years.. /s

Something else to ponder is how much content will we be consuming in 5 years?

While I doubt it happening, if people get tired of always being connected and consuming content 24/7 from where-ever & whenever, then yea tablets (and probably smartphones) will slowly disappear.

I don't think so at ALL. I mean, isn't that what everyone wants???
A POWERFUL "PC" like device that people can take with them anywhere and maintain all the functionality of a desktop / tablet / etc all-in-one ? A device that you can easily use in the home (replacing your traditional desktop) and just as easily use on-the-go or take with you into a meeting for work, bring to a friends house, etc. }
No, rather the opposite; as the advancements keep on (increased space, BETTER battery life, etc) it'll reassure that tablets are here to stay.

Man, you can't trust what tech ppl say. Everyone seems to have some crystal ball, but everyone see a different future. A few months ago they said the tablets will replace consoles soon. Now the tablet will die in 5 years. With the PC sells in free fall, that means in 5 years we will not have PCs nor tablets, what means we will have to rely only on smartphones. But Google also said that smartphones are not the future, and that Glass will replace it. If you always listen to these people you will never buy anything.

The success or failure of tablets will likely be determined by whether the Chinese/Japanese/Koreans pick up on the stylus interface. For their languages keyboard data entry is a pain in the butt. To use a keyboard a Chinese person needs to learn a new language (Pinyin). With a stylus they just write in Chinese. A phone or even a phablet is just too small to be a useful input device. For data consumption they're fine, but not for input, which is what most people do at work.

How on earth can people figure that tablets will go away? Especially with the idea that they are to be replaced by smartphones! Isnt that all backwards??!

In second and third world countries you do see smartphones being the primary consumption device but mostly because its the only one they have because it was the cheapest!

But tablets are only rising in marketshare. First we had the iPhone and then we had the iPad. People are picking up iPads to complement their iPhones and replace PC functions. If people figured they dont need an iPad because they already have an iPhone then the iPad would have been a failure. But its not.

Instead we see the rise of the 7'' tablet. Its the perfect size to enjoy browsing, chatting and other basic consumption. Which is what the large majority of consumers use their PCs for. In other words the traditional desktop PC is getting less important. I doubt it will be replaced entirely but it will be used less and thus replaces less often.

Whereas the tablet and smartphone will be the most important PCs that people have. Depending on your lifestyle one of the two will be the most important. And in some cases people will have no need for a tablet and stick to their Phone. But that doesnt mean the smartphone is reclaiming ground lost to the tablet. I think that is just BB's CEO's wishful thinking. Because they failed with tablets and stil have a small shot at regaining the smartphone market.

Tablet screens will not go away, just the tablet as a computer, we will have our smart phones as the cpu core and tablet like screens which are just wifi/bt screens connecting to our phones, our phones will be the engines, same with PCs which will eventually die off as our phones become easily powerful enough to replace them for most things and we just have wireless (or wired to a phone dock) keyboard, mouse and monitor on our desks. Same with TV which will just be a big monitor we can send data to wirelessly from our mobiles, I more or less do this already with a WDTV. Meshed with cloud storage etc the phone becomes the core of all your entertainment needs. Only problem comes when you need to take a phone call half way through your movie.

SonicSam said,
Tablet screens will not go away, just the tablet as a computer, we will have our smart phones as the cpu core and tablet like screens which are just wifi/bt screens connecting to our phones, our phones will be the engines, same with PCs which will eventually die off as our phones become easily powerful enough to replace them for most things and we just have wireless (or wired to a phone dock) keyboard, mouse and monitor on our desks. Same with TV which will just be a big monitor we can send data to wirelessly from our mobiles, I more or less do this already with a WDTV. Meshed with cloud storage etc the phone becomes the core of all your entertainment needs. Only problem comes when you need to take a phone call half way through your movie.

Or when your Phone runs out of power. Not to mention how easily you'll kill your battery if it also runs your tablet-size and desktop-size screens. They would first need revolutionize the battery technology. Making it smaller only gets you so far (and thats what theyve been doing the last 40 years).

But I do agree it makes sense to decrease the amount of actual devices and have wireless screens that can pick up the signal of your smallest and most mobile device. But thats a long way off. I think its more likely that in the near future desktops and tablets stil have their own CPU and battery but access the content on your Phone wirelessly. So that for all intended purposes they stil are your Phone. Which means they need to also run the same OS if you want to fully enjoy all the content from your Phone on different screens.

Consider the growing screen sizes of smartphones. It's definitely approaching tablet territory. If it continues to grow, then we may see a new form factor to replace small screen (smartphones) and large screen (tablets) devices.

Phablets (phone + tablet) may be the next big thing.

It is just going to be a tablet. We would be fooling ourselves by calling them smartphones. I think anything above 5.5 is a tablet. Tablets are here to stay and a modified tablet cannot be called a new device, its just a tablet with more ding ling.

Anaron said,
Consider the growing screen sizes of smartphones. It's definitely approaching tablet territory. If it continues to grow, then we may see a new form factor to replace small screen (smartphones) and large screen (tablets) devices.

Phablets (phone + tablet) may be the next big thing.

Replacing smartphones and tablets with phablets means that you're going to be getting a device that isn't good at being either.

Tablets and smartphones will morph into a single device--designed for the ultra-mobile set. Laptops will remain for the mobile users. Desktops will remain for the non-mobile users, i.e.,stationary office settings. Recognizing this, what was Microsoft thinking when they thought one UI, i.e., Windows-8, would work well on all three platforms?

Tablets need to time to evolve. I would like a high performance laptop (with intel or amd processors, good graphics), with an detachable touchscreen display that has a arm powered computer embedded with battery inside it. So you could connect the touchscreen back onto your laptop and have a powerful pc, or take the screen off and have a ARM power computer on the go!

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
Tablets need to time to evolve. I would like a high performance laptop (with intel or amd processors, good graphics), with an detachable touchscreen display that has a arm powered computer embedded with battery inside it. So you could connect the touchscreen back onto your laptop and have a powerful pc, or take the screen off and have a ARM power computer on the go!

Lenovo Helix......

It all depends on what our smartphones will be capable of doing in five years. I can see them being much more powerful with longer battery life.

If I could store all my HD collection (7TB) on my phone and wirelessly stream it to my TV then my smartphone would instantly replace my NAS, my HTPC and my tables.

stevan said,
It all depends on what our smartphones will be capable of doing in five years. I can see them being much more powerful with longer battery life.

If I could store all my HD collection (7TB) on my phone and wirelessly stream it to my TV then my smartphone would instantly replace my NAS, my HTPC and my tables.

Isn't it a more realistic idea that the TV will become the host for your media? You can still ditch the htpc and Nas.

Although the Nas has a very specific purpose. I wouldn't agree that a 'one device does all', is a good place to be.

lunamonkey said,

Isn't it a more realistic idea that the TV will become the host for your media?

That would require a massive shift in the TV market.

Honestly, I can do everything on my phone as I can on my tablet. I really dont use my tablet at all. Yea, it has a bigger screen but I have my phone everywhere I go. Will tablets be dead in 5yrs? Who knows...but I will create a reminder to bring it up then....

It would be quite ironic if touch screen convertible laptops took over tablets, considering there was a try at it back around 2004-2005. In fact I think it may be the other way around we might see a tablet increase. I see more and more people with tablets like the iPad with keyboard attachments.

wv@gt said,
It would be quite ironic if touch screen convertible laptops took over tablets, considering there was a try at it back around 2004-2005. In fact I think it may be the other way around we might see a tablet increase. I see more and more people with tablets like the iPad with keyboard attachments.

The point is what is Tablet: for me personally a Tablet, and I have use them since MS launched XP Tablet in 2002, has always been a Convertible one that replaced my laptop. It does the same things that a laptop does PLUS I can turn the screen around and used it as a notepad and use handwriting. Touch is a convenient add-on but the key point is the handwriting.
Media Tablets, intended as consumption device maybe or maybe not fade away but for anybody who needs a portable computers it will not happen.

I kind of have a similar viewpoint. A tablet is hardly pocketable - it almost always means I have to carry a separate bag or something. And when my phone can do everything the tablet can, what's the point in carrying a separate luggage. And if I am carrying a separate bag, why not carry a full fledged laptop (or an ultra-portable) that is way more powerful?

For me, an ultrabook (with may be a detachable touch-sensitive screen, working over WiDi) makes way more sense than a tablet.

I couldn't see that happening. Making a dent in the phone versus tablet marketshare sure, but killing? Nah. A phone can run most everything a tablet can sure, doesn't mean it should though. Just for example, gaming or watching a movie on a phone is doable but hardly ideal, never mind trying to read a book, personally would opt for the larger tablet sized screen every time for that sort of thing. Modern phones are convenient as all hell but they're not appropriate for *everything*, especially when you consider the fancier tablets that run "full" operating systems like the Surface Pro and the like.

I think tablets in there current form are kind of like netbooks. There maybe some form of tablets in the future but they will likely be really different.

nvllsvm said,
Most likely a tablet with an optional keyboard dock.

That would still be a tablet, I think.
Yes, before tablets disappear, something needs to appear in the market. Like netbooks, they died because tablets replaced them.
I think, the only thing that can make tablets irrelevant is some kind of new mobile device, like Google Glass.

Raa said,
IF the tablet dies, what will replace it?

Tablets scratch the itch for ultra portability, good battery life, simple application management and usage, simple input, and between tablets and smartphones all of the new tech is showing up (motion sensitivity, NFC).

And that's all it is: an itch. Tablets are successful because of what they address, not simply by virtue of being tablets. It's easy to see that hardware vendors are putting everything they've got into bringing those same benefits to other form factors. If an ultra light, ultra thin, ultra mobile touch convertible laptop comes along with good battery life, a good OS, a good ecosystem, and a form factor that doesn't suffer from the downsides of past convertibles (flimsiness, thickness), what good is a tablet anymore? People are already dumping money into the accessory market (cases, screen protectors and covers), all accessories designed to solve the problem of not having a keyboard acting as a clam shell screen protector anymore.

And if it isn't a next-gen convertible, it'll be something else. There's no reason to be emotionally invested in the survival of a form factor. It's idiotic to reject technological advancements on such an empty basis.

I'm pretty sure if the idea is functionality, a new mobile device "like Google Glass" won't be replacing tablets. Can you play games, do productivity work, and other stuff on Google Glasses? I don't think so. Google Glass is only good for maybe recording media on an eye view, and for Internet functions.

Quikboy said,
I'm pretty sure if the idea is functionality, a new mobile device "like Google Glass" won't be replacing tablets. Can you play games, do productivity work, and other stuff on Google Glasses? I don't think so. Google Glass is only good for maybe recording media on an eye view, and for Internet functions.

On Google Glass? Or on something LIKE Google Glass?

Remember, definitions change. A few years ago, phone were dismissed as mainstream gaming devices because of input and power limitations. What happened? Game genres reshaped themselves around those limitations, took advantage of NEW functionality, and now mobile gaming is the most explosively growing sector of the gaming industry.

You can point at the limitations of connected eye wear and say they make a compelling game experience impossible, but you're being short...ugh...well, might as well finish the word, I guess...sighted.

Developers will try, and if it's destined for success, they'll innovate new game mechanics and players will come.

Aside from obvious augmented reality play styles (scavenger hunts, etc), eye wear could eventually project images over any type of surface in front of you that you can control. Can you imagine Battleship? Play it on any surface with no need for a divider, and only you can see your ships, while only your opponent can see theirs. Such a platform would allow normally two-player games like Battleship to have significantly more players in the same game, because a divider wouldn't be a design limitation anymore.

Hell, Star Trek was way ahead of all of us on this, if you happen to remember the episode 'The Game':

http://api.ning.com/files/dOxy...RVREHtJC/STTNG_The_Game.jpg