NPD In-Stat research suggests that the most common business uses of tablets are email and calendar management, note taking, and presentations. About 77 percent report that email also is a common workplace use.
All of those might seem relatively trivial applications that can be conducted on smart phones or notebook PCs as well.
“Email is by far the most dominant tablet application for business users,” says Frank Dickson, NPD In-Stat researcher. In addition to email, customer relationship management and IT network intelligence are listed as “most important” uses.
None of those “facts” is deterring people from buying tablets. JP Morgan analysts now forecast worldwide tablet shipments will reach 99.3 million in 2012, a 55 percent jump over 2011. In 2013 tablet sales will eclipse the 100 million mark, jumping to 132.6 million, JP Morgan also predicts.
That is not to say current apps are destined to be the lead apps at some point in the future. It is conceivable that tablets could emerge as platforms for new behaviors and apps beyond today’s application set.
What there is no doubt about is that tablets have captured consumer affection.
PCs and TVs still represent the two largest categories of U.S. consumer technology hardware and consumables sold in 2011. But tablets and and mobile phones are the third and fourth largest product categories, by revenue.
Revenue from products was about $144 billion according to The NPD Group. PCs represented the most revenue with nearly $28 billion in sales, accounting for almost 20 percent of sales.
Tablets and e-readers were the clear growth categories in 2011, nearly doubling sales to $15 billion in 2011.
And it appears that consumers are shifting spending from other categories toward the top-five categories.
“U.S. hardware sales growth is becoming harder and harder to achieve at the broad industry level,” said Stephen Baker, Vice President of Industry Analysis at NPD. “Sales outside of the top five categories fell by eight percent in 2011 as consumers shifted spending from older technologies to a narrow range of products.”
Apple was the leading consumer electronics brand for the second year in a row. Among the top five brands Apple was the only one to experience a sales increase, posting a 36 percent rise over 2010.
Sales through online, direct mail, and TV shopping channels jumped seven percent and accounted for 24 percent of all sales, up from 22 percent in 2010.
Sales through these non-retail channels captured 25 percent of industry revenue in the fourth quarter of 2011.