How Tablets Are Moving Us Into A Post-PC World

  • Author: Lauren
  • Lauren Fisher,

The above quote is from back in 2009 just as tablet computers were starting to make an appearance, but this was long before the position we find ourselves in today, where they are starting to cannibalise PC sales and they are being adopted by the masses. A whole new generation are starting with tablets instead of PCs or Laptops as they also become the default media consumption device in the home as well as starting to play a more prominent role in education.

Apple sold over 20 million iPads last quarter alone and with the launch of the iPad mini next week, this holiday season will become the biggest quarter ever for tablet sales as the competition (Samsung, Microsoft, Kindle and Google Nexus) start to catch up. So what isn't in doubt is that we are all starting to embrace tablets and we could even be heading towards a post-PC world.

So while that is great for consumers, what does it mean for business and large brands? Where are the opportunities? How should brands make the transition to tablets and which companies are already using them effectively?

Brands Examples

The really smart brands and businesses are starting to use tablets in all sorts of innovative ways to improve their customer experience or make their staff more efficient. They can either rely on the hundreds of thousands of apps that are already available in the various app stores, or build their own apps and solutions to fit their business needs. Here are some of the examples of businesses using tablet computers effectively:

Television

Social TV has been touted around quite a bit, with many stats and reports showing that the vast majority of people use mobile devices while watching TV, showing a change in how we consume media. As expected, brands have been experimenting with this most with varied success.

One major example of an app getting it right is Shazam whose app complements the viewing experience perfectly, but there are many other apps designed with social TV in mind like Zeebox, which acts as an electronic program guide and determines content based on what your friends - or everyone else - is watching.

Retail

The one area where companies are hoping will grow is in the area of e-commerce, the idea is that if they see something on TV, they will look it up while it's fresh in their minds and make a purchase. The reality isn't as clear-cut as that, but the tablet has begun to shape how we purchase by expanding on the consumer's options.

Near the end of last year, Paypal unveiled what it felt would be the future of mobile commerce with its own video, but while at the beginning of the year, you would have thought this would be the only way it would evolve. This came in the form of eBay's revamped iPad app, which was released back in May. While the app has split opinion (25 gave it five stars while 39 has given it one star), it was at least an attempt at realising the potential the second screen has for e-commerce.

Also, tablets have found their way into retail, but instead of it being an add-on that the consumer just happens to have, retailers are beginning to incorporate smartphones and tablets into their daily routines. E-commerce retailer Square's partnership with Starbucks was widely publicised, with the latter accepting Square wallet mobile payments in early November.

Perhaps the most extreme example comes from the U.S. retailer Urban Outfitters, who recently announced that it would phase out all cash registers, replacing them with iPads on a swivel. This way, both retailer and customer would be able to complete transactions and allows greater flexibility when it comes to transactions and gives the store more space to play around with.

The Workplace

The obvious place for tablets to be integrated is in the workplace. Thanks to its portable and accessible nature, more professionals are using them in conjunction with their computers. So instead of one replacing the other, the two have formed a harmonious relationship as both are used for their respective strengths: The computer for the more heavy-duty work (typing, editing, programming, designing, etc.) and the tablet for lighter tasks (emails, organisation, etc.) and presentation.

This has reached the point where there are accessories for tablets to make it into a makeshift laptop and numerous apps that synchronise the two, either by connecting programs (MS Word, cloud computing) or use the two in tandem, like Air Display which turns your iPad into a second screen for your computer.

Aviation

Many airline companies are using tablets as a way to entertain its passengers on long-haul flights and both staff and passengers. For one, Qantas decided earlier this year that it would roll out iPads to its 767 fleet so it could stream in-flight entertainment. This would happen in the fourth quarter of this year and it's estimated that over 5,000 iPads would be purchased to achieve this.

This isn't the first airline for the airline to do this as it also trialed iPads as in-flight entertainment this time last year. But what's also important is that staff have been getting in on the action too with both British Airways and Qatar Airlines providing staff with their own iPads, allowing them to complete their duties more efficiently.

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Image via www.qatarairways.com[/caption]

Sporting Events

Probably the best example of where the second screen is being used, for those watching an event on TV, that is. The relationship is mutual, sporting events are usually a great place for people to communicate and social media has only fuelled that urge. Just looking at the records for most tweets per second shows you that the majority of events are sporting-related and the stats back up its popularity. Also, sporting professionals have taken to the tablet as well with players from the NFL using them as part of their daily practise.

While brands like ESPN and Sky Sports have released their own tablet apps, gambling is where it has seen the greatest impact. Bookmakers like Paddy Power and Betfair had released their own apps that allow users to bet while the game is going on. As they're updated with new odds as a game or sporting event progresses, it encourages users to be actively logged in as they look for the best odds. Something worth noting is that Betfair's had more than £800 million traded through its mobile service last year, showing you how lucrative tablets (and mobiles) are for the industry.

Restaurant Menus

Ordering food from tablet computers might seem a little geeky, but the long-term potential here is huge. This would work especially well for chains of restaurants who have the same menu across multiple venues and who want to change their menu from one central location without having to print hundreds of copies.

There are a few logistical issues that restaurants would have to face like theft and spillage, but the fact that they could be used to distract children would also be a massive bonus. Not one for every venue, but certainly worth trying for some restaurant and food venues.

Hotels

When you think about it, hotels can be a pretty painful place to get a hang off with their complicated entertainment systems, tons of leaflets about services and various menus. Some of the high-end hotels were quick to introduce iPads for guests as they looked to combine all those services onto one device. The aim was to create an experience that is personalised to a customer's needs and handed to them on arrival.

This case study from Hyatt shows just how much the high-end hotels are starting to embrace tablets, not only as a way to improve their service, but also as a way of increasing revenue through online connections.

In The Kitchen

One of the places that the consumer spends the most money for is the kitchen. Brands compete aggressively for household spend and since it's an area where tablet computers are used the most, there is a huge opportunity here to get your brand in front of decision makers. There is a wide range of cooking, recipe and instructional video apps out there, but you really get the feeling that this is only scratching the surface.

For Cats

OK, so we are only half-joking with this suggestion, but when we covered it on the blog a few months ago, people were amazed that a brand like Friskies would develop a game on tablet devices aimed exclusively at cats.

It was, of course, only a way at getting at the cats owners so it could sell them more of its product, but the future must be based on tablets if even our four legged friends are playing games on them.