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When Apple released the iPad earlier this year, there was a lot of discussion and debate about the fate of tablet devices. Was there a need for them? Did consumers really want them? Where in the computing food chain might they fit in?

Months later, Apple has sold millions iPads, confirming at a minimum that there is a market for tablet devices. But it's still not clear what impact they'll have on computing over the long-term.

The truth is that Apple can't answer all the questions about tablet computing. After all, while there is no doubt that the iPad has proven to be quite popular, it's a young product and the overall market for tablet devices is still relatively small.

Much will depend on how the market responds to the tablet devices launched by companies hoping to get a piece of the tablet computing pie Apple has baked. Those devices are nearly here, and some have been on display at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Two of the tablets making their debut at IFA are two Android-based devices: the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Toshiba Folio 100. Both demonstrate that the competition has taken a look at the iPad and what it lacks. Samsung, for instance, has included a 1.3MP camera on the Galaxy Tab, and thanks to its use of Android 2.2, the Galaxy Tab supports Flash.

Are the Galaxy Tab and Folio 100 iPad killers? Perhaps not, but that doesn't mean that they and other tablet devices which will soon be available for sale aren't important products. They are for one reason: they should help us discover whether or not there's a broader market for tablet devices.

Even if Apple dominates tablet devices with the iPad the same way it has dominated, say, MP3 players with the iPod, major brands pushing competing products with different prices, hardware specs, operating systems and software packages will help expose more consumers to tablet devices. How many will buy? There's no doubt about the hype and anticipation of the tablet's impact on the world of computing, but only the answer to that will determine whether or not tablet computing remains a small niche or becomes a mainstream phenomenon affecting everyone from content producers to software developers.

The good news is that we probably won't have to wait long to have our answer.

Patricio Robles

Published 6 September, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2429 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Barry Adams

I don't think it's as much about the (re)rise of tablet PCs, as it is about the rise of apps. What the iPad does really well - as does the iphone - is run internet-enabled apps. Android, the sole OS able to compete with the iPhone and iPad, is also an app-based OS. I think what we're seeing is a move away from the World Wide Web and towards an appified internet experience. Tablet PCs are a means to that end, as are smartphones and probably later down the line a form of interactive app-based TV.

over 6 years ago

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Synonymous

I believe that the majority of computer users at the moment could actually get away with using mobile tablet device for all of their computing needs. Most people use their home PCs/Laptops for little more than the internet, and all of the marvellous things they can do online!

I see a time when most people who use the internet have a tablet, and only certain individuals will actually have a PC/Laptop for gaming/work/creative media etc.

over 6 years ago

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rory

I truly believe this is the rise of tablets. A few years ago a friend of mine had a PC tablet which he mainly used for his illustration company. When he showed me he could draw straight on the screen, I was won over. The interface difference between laptops&desktop computers and iphones/ipads is so much easier I can't see how tablets won't be the 'must have' equipment of the future

over 6 years ago

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James@ Document Scanning

Good article i for one wellcome the rise of the tablet device. I think the Samsung Tablet is the best portable ecipment for document management. For remotely viewing PDF files from the company web host facility and Viewing scanned company documents from any location it is a godsend.

about 6 years ago

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piaciaperry

Interesting.....

over 5 years ago

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