Mobile revolution built on logical fallacy

NPD published a logical fallacy yesterday. In a report, it claimed that by the end of the year, tablet shipments will surpass notebook shipments.

It pointed out that tablet shipments will reach more than 240 million units worldwide in 2013, compared to the company’s projection of 207 million notebook shipments this year.

While this might be all factual, the implication of the study is confirmation of a logical fallacy in that it assumes that PCs and notebooks are somehow connected to the performance of tablets.

It proposes a scenario, which has been amazingly common over the last couple of years, that PCs and notebooks are being replaced by tablets and smartphones as part of a mobile revolution. The proof to this fallacy is that PC sales have declined while smartphones and tablet sales have increased.

But during the same period, car sales have also declined. Does this mean that tablets and smartphones are replacing cars? McDonald’s sales have also declined, does this mean that people are tucking into tablets instead of Big Macs?

Smartphones and tablets are not actually replacing anything at the moment. PC sales are slow, as they always are during periods of economic trouble. Companies do not buy PCs and consumers hang on to their old ones.

Anyone who has tried to do anything significant on a tablet or smartphone will know that the technology is limited and only an evolution from the days of the old Psions.

While more than 40 percent of US homes might have a tablet, they still have PCs and laptops too. The arrival of a tablet does not mean that PCs are being switched off.

In the field of home education, no kid is going to want to type their homework on a tablet. Neither is anyone really able to do any serious work. Most of a tablet’s functions are still that of the organiser. Most of a smartphone’s functions are used doing traditional old phone work and messaging, despite the hype. Arguably, plenty of smartphones are mostly used for calls, SMSs and the alarm clock.

Owning a Kindle does not mean no longer buying books, and owning a smartphone does not mean junking a notebook or PC. Like many, the toys are perfectly compatible with a PC. People are buying them instead of new PCs because their old tin box works fine and they don’t yet have a tablet or a smartphone.

While I no longer doubt that the tablet is a fad which will eventually pass, it is still a gizmo looking for an application. No doubt it will find one, but with notebooks and Ultrabooks getting touch screens, the time is running out for them to find one.

Steve Wozniak might have it right when he said that the smartphone and tablet will fall into the function of a worldwide remote control and wallet. If that happens then it does not mean the death of PCs or Notebooks, or even, necessarily, a remote control or wallet.

The PC market will pick up as the economy does. It is the nature of analysts that they will not say that the return of the PC means the death of mobile computing. Instead they will just grow up and see the two technologies as separate and compatible.