"There continues to be a market for end-users who need performance and processing power that a tablet just can't deliver," he said. "There are opportunities for the channel to seize for both the notebook and the tablet categories, and the key is presenting the best solution to suit the user's needs."
Horses for courses
One device per person was a common arrangement in the past, but the ongoing consumerisation of IT means that more gadgets are finding their way into the hands of employees. Since no two businesses are same, Acer's Goffredo said workers are typically picking and choosing what works best for their needs.
"For example, a business which leverages a notebook with long battery life and embedded 3G can offer a great level of service to their customers whilst onsite to a standard notebook with limited connectivity," he said.
Asus' Hsiao also sees tablets and notebooks having a place in the consumer and enterprise space. "Tablets can be a great tool in education because they are responsive, light, and easy to use," he said. "They also have a battery life that will last the whole school day."
Hsiao adds those same attributes also appeal to consumers seeking a device for light computing, even if it is for tasks such as catching up on movies or reading during commutes. Those looking for "heavy computing" capability are mostly limited to one choice.
"Enterprise customers and consumers alike require notebooks for tasks that require more grunt, processing power and memory which tablets can't offer," he said.
Accenture's Cassidy also draws a distinction of how useful tablets really are. "For enterprises, tablets are a great way to equip basic office automation and mobilise processes, while notebooks exist to equip traditional office working," he said. "For consumers, tablets are a great way of consuming media and information, while notebooks a great for creating media, information and documents."
Instead of seeing the devices in competition with each other, Laser's Lau said the broader choice of options means specific needs are catered to more efficiently. "With Cloud, multiple devices can access common data and replicate identities across ubiquitous platforms, so anything a user does on one device is synchronised with the other," he said.
Lau adds tablets have a low cost of entry for consumers and a rapid lifecycle compared to a couple of years ago, so they can "do a lot more on a tablet for a lot less."
The digital convergence
In addition to innovations to tablets and notebooks, the role of devices evolve with the habits of users. Already Accenture's Cassidy is seeing tablets take on a wider range of tasks, such as Microsoft Office for iPad, Cloud services and speech recognition extending the use of these devices. "Notebooks are getting more and more specialised in their use, moving further into being an enterprise tool," he said.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.