According to the rumors and the leaks it looks like 2014 will be year where larger Tablets get added to the great Tablet race. I see that as a perfectly natural step in the evolution of Tablets as we now know them. It makes sense from several points of view, but there is no guarantee that they will catch on. Both Apple and Samsung are rumored to be bringing 12 inch Tablets to market in 2014. If they do, you can bet others will follow suit.
Tablets as we now know them have already evolved downward in size from 10 inch models to 7 and 8 inch models. Some would even argue that the phablet from factor is just another step in that evolution. All sizes currently on the market seem to be having some success and that is simply because Tablets are very personal devices and how individuals use them are very personal choices. Size is a big part of that choice.
Tablets have also evolved to a point that manufacturers really can’t offer much in the way of change in the form factor for the current size models. Yes, there will be improvements in processors, battery life, etc… But in the end a Tablet is a rectangular piece of glass that allows us to do what we want to do on it, and until we have bendable and foldable devices we won’t see much change to the form factors we already have.
So, while manufacturers are busy trying to come up with smaller accessory-like wearable computing devices to capture our attention (and our pocketbooks), they are also looking to expand in the other direction by making larger screen Tablets available as well. Again, it only makes sense.
Larger Tablets will most likely appeal to two or three market segments, although the smart bet is that they are going to be targeted at pros and the prosumer market to allow for steeper price points. For the education and creative classes larger screens will allow for more content to be available on the screen. For some that will be significant. For the photo and video set this may be a way to get Tablets with higher res displays (and higher price points) into the market without having to worry about upsetting the price structure for the current sizes. For those who already use Tablets as work devices, a larger screen might also be viewed as an asset. For the couch crowd that uses Tablets as a third screen, the size of the display may or may not matter, but what size Tablet sits on your coffee Table won’t necessarily be a key decision point. So, having one with a larger screen won’t be that big a deal if the larger screen makes sense for other needs.
I don’t see larger Tablets as a revolutionary new market delineation, but a natural evolution to provide choice for those who simply prefer or need a larger display, regardless of their reasons. The use cases won’t be that different than the 10 inch models, but the choice will expand some purchasing possibilities in a time where manufacturers (and investors) are feeling that things are getting a little boring. Frankly, I think in the short term Tablet manufacturers have a better chance of seeing their market share expand with larger form factor Tablets than they do with wearable devices.
But then wearable devices might actually make more sense as companions to larger form factor Tablets if that ever becomes a thing. Who knows.
The key here is that there will be another tier of devices to choose from in this post-PC world where consumers and prosumers don’t need full fledged computers to enjoy doing what they do, whether that be in a truly mobile sense or with a larger device that offers the same kind of experience.