Earlier this decade the smartphone came on the scene to and in short order finished off the PDA. Now the tablet and the smartphone together are eroding the sales growth of notebooks. Recently in fact the CEO of Best Buy said tablets are eating into laptop sales by 50%!
I do not believe the iPad trend is a fad and I can safely say its sales will continue to pick up momentum based on the informal research I have done. Over the next few years, smartphones will become smarter and some will become larger like the Droid X and this means more consumers will decide a notebook is not necessary.
Note to computer manufacturers - your products are putting users to sleep
And the tablet wars are just beginning, virtually every technology company is going to flood the market with them soon.
Traditional computers, laptops and netbooks will continue to see an assault from these devices and the thrill factor of these new gadgets will force computer manufacturers to innovate or lose share.
Simply stated, there is a coolness factor to tablets and smartphones which is unrivaled by traditional computers. I carry around an iPad and Dell Latitude laptop and the tablet makes the laptop look and feel like a mainframe... It is clunky and feels much older than it is.
Apple for its part is doing an amazing job injecting coolness into all its products and Sony is doing an OK job. As we enter the next product cycle, traditional computer manufacturers have to decide if they want to become cooler and hipper or are they satisfied watching their market share get taken from splashy competitors selling products in new form factors.
Update: Check out this article for various other viewpoints such as the iPad being an in-between device - like it happens to be for me.