The Age of the Hybrid is Upon Us.
The tablet computer was a revolutionary leap in terms of personal computing at its inception. Enough computing horsepower for the average user was packed into one, often sleek device. They are excellent for web browsing, reading, photos, videos, light gaming and even some light word processing or spread sheets (if you have the patience :-P). No peripherals meant complete freedom. But tablets always lacked a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’.
With the arrival of hybrid devices like the Microsoft Surface Book and others like ASUS’s line of ‘Transformers’, the traditional tablet has been given a dose of steroids and has mutated into something that could and, in fact, already is turning out to be a dream come true. Hybrids retain all that is best about the tablet form factor that we all love, but then, plug it into its base and it’s like Popeye had some spinach.
Let’s just look at the Microsoft Surface Book for a second. While it is a very high end device it’s certainly a dream come true for many. Packing excellent features such as Core i7 Processors and dedicated Nvidia graphics and a gorgeous touch screen display, it’s quite the charm. Unplug it from its base, which consists of the keyboard, track pad and extra battery power and the Surface Book becomes a tablet with which you can do tablet stuff, like reading in bed or watching a movie on the couch. Plug it back in and you do actually, finally have a powerful laptop or even a desktop replacement. While the price is steep, buying a hybrid means you don’t need to have a desktop, laptop and a tablet so, really, it’s good value.
The move to hybrids has been made possible largely due to the windows platform. Since Windows 8, Microsoft has offered a seamless, cross platform operating system. With the exception of nearly all mobile phones, the Windows OS is able to run in both mobile and full desktop modes. This has seen a huge drop in the sales of tablets powered solely by a mobile OS like Android.
Just to put all of this into perspective in qualitative terms, consider these figures. In the last quarter of this year, 43 million tablets were shipped. This number is down 14.7% when compared to the same period last year. All the major manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and Lenovo posted declines in tablet sales. The only segment of tablets to see a rise was the very, very low end. Hybrids on the other hand, surged.
But we suppose that this is just the normal course of things. Tablets always lacked a certain something and when hybrids originally came out, they were awkward and a bit of a disaster. But they’ve come of age now and with beauties like the Surface Book, Transformers and others, well, we’d be unlikely to consider buying a traditional tablet ever again.