Tablets Begin Inevitable March to the Top of the Mobile Device Industry

Recently, mobile app developers and builders received some very good news. For the last seven years, smartphones have gradually taken their place beside computers, and are now the second most popular medium for connecting to the Internet. However, within the last two years, tablets have mounted a serious challenge to the supremacy of computers and smartphones.

The tablet is seen by many as the perfect hybrid device. It is not as big and clunky as a computer, but it has a much bigger screen and more ease of operation than a smartphone. Apple’s iPad series has been extremely successful, but their practice of marketing to the high end limited their market share, as it didn’t appeal to the middle of the market.

In 2012, Google and Samsung developed the middle to lower end of the market with the Nexus and Galaxy series. In addition, Apple introduced their iPad Mini, and lowered the price point of their basic iPad, thus making it more readily available to that segment of the market.

The end result is that tablets had a record year in 2012, and sales are forecast to continue their rise in a steady pattern which could allow them to overtake smartphones in the production of app revenue by the year 2018.

According to an analysis performed by ABI Research, tablet apps are currently forecast to reach $8.8 billion in revenue for the current year, while smartphones are expected to produce $16.4 billion in app revenue. This works out to a combined $25.2 billion in app revenue.

Currently, Apple still holds a big lead on Android in app revenue. Apple is projected to produce 65% of this year’s revenue, while Android’s share projects to 27%, with all other mobile platforms combined producing 8% of app revenue.

According to Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI, the current state of the market sets up perfectly for tablet apps to make a strong showing in the future. He credits the bigger screen on apps, combined with the availability of low-cost tablets, as the two biggest factors in the rise of tablet apps. According to Markkanen, “Smartphones paved the way…but in the end we believe that it’s the tablets that will prove the more transformative device segment.”

Markkanen sees tablets as having the potential to open the market to demographic groups that he currently sees as “underserved,” such as the elderly and children. Markkanen also feels that opening these markets will provide what he calls “very significant social benefits.”

So, what does this mean to you, if you are an Android or iPad mobile app developer or builder? The short version: it means that you should be really excited. We all knew that smartphone apps are becoming more and more popular as more and more people bought smartphones, but the rise of the tablet app has just upped the ante considerably.

While smartphones are a market unto themselves, the tablet represents a new and unique market. As people replace their laptops with tablets, the market will demand apps that take over many of the functions of the laptop. There’s also a chance that for many, the tablet will eventually serve as both the main computer and the main smartphone for many users.

We’re not really going out on much of a limb by saying that the tablet has the potential to “blow up” the app market until it dwarfs anything we have seen so far. There’s going to be a lot of demand for apps for both Android and iPad in the future, and a lot of app developers are going to make a lot of money if they manage their contributions to the market effectively.

For now, we expect a further spike in the sale of Android tablets, and forecast that apps which appeal to the middle to lower end of the market will be the most lucrative. We’re not saying that a high-end app, if done correctly, won’t make a lot of money, but we are saying that the middle to lower end of the market should see increased demand.

If you are considering developing an Android or iPad app, we would recommend asking yourself the following questions. What are people using their computers for now that they might be using their tablets for later? What smartphone applications could become even more popular on a tablet? How will the increased visibility due to the size of a tablet screen affect the appearance of a smartphone app?

If you would like to take advantage of this market opportunity, call 1300 650 253.

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