Thanks to the pace of mobile-network expansion, new audio and video technologies, the expansion of Wi-Fi, and more-capable hardware that runs longer on a single charge, the tablet may begin replacing the smartphone within the next half a dozen years.
Kevin C. Tofel of GigaOm, defends his predictions and gives several reasons why he thinks this will happen.
Our dependence on mobile media consumption is growing. This won’t surprise anyone, but now that traditional video—think movies and TV shows in addition to YouTube (GOOG) content and the Olympic Games—is more readily accessible on mobile devices, screen size and video quality become more important. Why watch the content on a small, low-resolution screen when you can watch it on a high-definition screen that’s still easily portable? There’s just no point in doing so, nor is it likely to be preferred.
Voice on a tablet isn’t as bad as you’d think. He knows this because he’s done it. Kevin took his Galaxy Tab 3G with a data-only SIM card and used it as a primary phone for a few months and later did the same with his Galaxy Nexus phone. To do this, he had to set up Google Voice and Skype forwarding, but in the future it won’t be a difficult prospect. In fact, the original Galaxy Tab actually has cellular voice capabilities, but the U.S. carriers stripped it out.
The user interface is moving beyond pocketable screens. Look at how voice interaction is starting to become part of our digital world. We’re in the early stages—from an end-user consumer view, that is—of speaking to our devices and having them follow our commands or look up information.
Naysayers are still judging based on today’s use cases, not tomorrow’s. So the obvious main retort to Kevin’s thought process is surely going to be, “But you can’t put a tablet in your pocket. Who’s going to carry a tablet everywhere?” And his answers are, “So what?” and “You will, and if you don’t your kids will.” Simply put, we can’t think about today’s constraint of needing to put a mobile device in a pocket. We only put phones in our pockets when we’re not using them. Guess what? We’re using them more and more, which means they’re in our pockets less and less.