It's official: Tablets are replacing PCs in the enteprise

As PC sales are decimated, tablets are taking their place in many businesses.

Two pieces of PC-related news crossed my desk late last week, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the connection.

First, on Thursday, IDC and Gartner revealed that the PC industry dropped a startling 10% in 2013 compared to 2012. The good news? IDC analyst Rajani Singh told Computerworld the market is expected to shrink only 4% to 5% in 2014. (Yesterday, it became clear that the 10% "solution" has also hit Mac sales, not just Windows PCs.)

Yikes!

It's an Apple world

A day later, The Wall Street Journal pronounced that Apple is extending its reach into the enterprise, rising from 1% in 2009 to 9% last year, and that's not including the iPhone! That means it's all about Macs (which are down overall, as noted above) and iPads. Clearly, tablets are cannabalizing PC sales not just for home users, but for serious enterprises as well.

The Journal calls out several real-world examples of Apple's corporate inroads:

LG&E and KU Energy LLC: The Kentucky power utiltiy uses iPpads to "pinpoint the location of a [power-line] problem and select from a menu of common issues, such as a damaged pole or an overgrown tree."

Cisco: Runs its own app store with almost 60 programs for iPhone and iPad users.

SAP: Deploys some 250,000 to its global workforce.

Nordstrom: Replaced some cash registers wtih 4,000 iPads and iPod Touches at its 261 stores.

"Tablet" doesn't necessarily mean iPad

The trend is clearly to replace laptops with tablets wherever possible. But that doesn't necessarily mean iPads. The wide variety of Android tablets means that companies may be able to find a model that matches their particular needs in terms of form factor, power, and price.

And at last week's International CES, Intel was aggressively pushing its 2-in-1 concept of Windows 8 devices that work as "a laptop when you need it, a tablet when you want it." Still, it's problematic whether the 2-in-1 approach properly addresses the core of this trend. In fact, it seems a little behind the times. The new business mantra increasingly seems to be: "A tablet when you need it, a laptop very seldom."

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