Staying True to Form

As we dive deeper into mobility, it’s becoming obvious that there’s a critical need to understand form factors and deliver the right content in the right way. New data from Statista shows that iPad sales are slumping. In fact, sales are down 23 percent over the last year, and it is the fifth consecutive quarter that sales have declined.

It’s not that consumers are bored with iPads. Instead, this is a clue that consumer preferences are changing and organizations must think about how to navigate an extremely disruptive and difficult business environment. For many years, the thinking was: smaller is better in the mobile device universe. Then came the Samsung Note Series phablet in 2011. Since then, device size has been swelling.

According to research from Flurry Analytics, phablets rose from about 2 percent of the overall mobile device market in 2013 to above 10 percent in late 2014. During the same span, full-sized tablets shrunk from about 7 percent of devices to 5 percent while mini-tablets remained at about 6 percent of the market. Juniper Research says the devices will reach 20-percent market share by 2020.

There are a few important messages here. First, mobility isn’t standing still. It’s critical to constantly evaluate and re-evaluate the way people use devices. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. We’re still in a learning phase about what’s optimal and what people like–all while the technology evolves. In fact, the Apple Watch and other wearable devices will further tilt the equation in the months ahead.

Second, people use different devices in different ways. Phablets, it turns out, are preferred for video, gaming and sports. They are also popular for younger users, namely Millennials, that use a phablet as a primary or only device. Unlike Gen X or Baby Boomers, they don’t always have or want full-fledged laptop and desktop computers.

Finally, devices aren’t equal. It’s important to deliver content in a way that’s ideal for a particular format–and ensure that a workforce is equipped with the right devices. Despite a drop in iPad sales, for instance, many organizations would still benefit from a greater deployment of these devices. Sales staff, retail clerks, hotel concierges, waiters in restaurants and many others continue to handle tasks in painfully slow, inefficient and error-prone ways using paper and pens.

Make no mistake, form factors, specific device features and usage patterns are increasingly at the center of smart IT.

Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard
Samuel Greengard writes about business, technology and other topics. His book, The Internet of Things (MIT Press) was released in the spring of 2015.

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