Worldwide trends seem to indicate that tablet PCs are currently being applied in niche markets where the use of a stylus and touch-sensitive screen can bring massive benefits to users" efficiency.
However, the future still holds the potential for the device to be used as a solution capable of revolutionizing the way in which all mobile workers interact with their information.
Says Traci Maynard, Acer business unit manager at Tarsus Technologies: "There is still a compelling argument for all mobile workers to make use of tablet PCs. The challenge, however, is that they have become accustomed to using conventional notebook computers, and that corporate users are generally resistant to change."
"Add to this the fact that tablet PCs generally still carry a price premium and you have some insight into why these devices have not achieved the uptake manufacturers originally anticipated," she adds.
David Drummond, MD of Acer Africa, concurs with these sentiments. "It is my opinion that inking technology will eventually become mainstream as a kind of display option for notebooks, similar to how buyers had the choice between passive and active screens on notebooks."
"This will however only happen once the digitizer becomes a less expensive option. Until then, the tablet will continue to address a specific niche in the market, just as "thin and light" addresses a specific niche in the market, without necessarily being a mainstream product," he says.
Maynard says that despite the relatively below par showing for tablet PCs in the worldwide market, numerous customers are standardizing on these devices as a result of the increase in the efficiency of their working environments. "We have seen healthy sales of tablets to these categories of clients over the past couple of quarters," she continues.
Looking at some of these niche applications, Maynard says there are numerous markets to choose from. "One example is the photography market, where a photographer working mostly in a studio uses a high-end digital SLR camera and tablet PC to take studio pictures primarily for magazines."
"Using a tablet PC, the photographer is able to preview and edit images with the ease of a pen interface. The photographer can move the tablet PC while taking shots from various parts of the studio. The tablet also allows for the previewing of the pictures as well as access to photographic tools for making improvements to the images on the spot," Maynard says.
"Similarly, the tablet has niche market applications in the construction industry. For example, construction supervisors can derive massive benefits from flexibility and easy information sharing, allowing them to deal with paperwork while on a construction site. This also enables them to quickly share data and images of what is happening in the field," Maynard continues.
"At the end of the day, it is all about application," Maynard says. "Many customers are finding their tablet PCs invaluable to their working life, and are not prepared to forego these benefits in the interests of saving on the price premium these devices carry. I am, therefore, convinced that, as this market matures, and the digitizer becomes more mainstream, we will see a healthy growth in the sales of tablet PCs," she concludes.