By Woody Leonhard/Windows Secrets Newsletter
Like it or not — and I know that some of you don’t — tablets are changing the way the world works and plays.
Whether it’s an iPad, Kindle, Nook, or a tablet based on Google’s Android OS, mobile devices are swirling across the computing landscape. Here’s how to pick the right one.
Don’t believe that mobile devices are taking over? Consider these eye-popping numbers.
Based on numbers published by Gartner, the estimated total units of Windows PCs sold in the U.S. (desktops, laptops, Ultrabooks, netbooks — everything except Apple computers) dropped by 8.6 percent from Q4 2010 to Q4 2011. (The number of Macs sold rose by 26 percent, according to the company’s earnings report.)
During approximately that same time period, the number of iPads sold rose by 111 percent — to over 15 million in Apple’s fiscal Q1 2012, according to the earnings report. (Apple’s fiscal year ends in September.) If you combine tablets with more traditional computers, Apple might be the largest computer manufacturer on earth. (Combining tablets with traditional computers to tally sales numbers will become more common when Windows 8 ships on tablets.)
And where is Microsoft? Well behind the curve, at this point. Any significant rival to the iPad is tied to the launch of Windows 8. We probably won’t see low-powered Win8 tablets until early 2013 — an eternity in a market that’s already exploding. About the time Microsoft gets a true iPad competitor out the door, Apple will be rolling out its fourth-generation iPad 4. And tablets based on Google Android 4 — or version 5 or 6 — will be commonplace.
Microsoft may be behind in its tablet technology, but it obviously knows that a sea change is under way. As it focuses on Win8 and the Metro user interface, the company is starting to refer to traditional Windows applications as legacy apps and the Windows desktop as the legacy desktop.
That’s not to say we’re approaching the post-PC era just yet — no more than we’re into the post-combustion engine era. PCs will have a place for a long time to come. But that place is no longer the undisputed center of the computing universe. And PCs are certainly not the center of computing innovation.
Just as many of us moved from DOS to Windows, from desktops to portables, and from printed and faxed documents to the Internet, tablets are becoming an important addition to our digital life. So let me step you through the current options, from the point of view of a long-in-the-tooth Windows veteran.
This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.