Tablets vs Smartphones - what products should consumer electronics makers focus on?

A recent interview with Christoph Vilanek, CEO of MobilcomDebitel, sparks an interesting strategic question for consumer electronics makers.

Vilanek told German Focus magazine "...asian electronics manufacturers should focus on improving mobile phones instead of developing just another iPad derivative..." and "...future smartphones could be built to measure your heart-rate or blood-pressure...".

So, here are some strategic questions to think about

  • In what respect is the tablet-market different from the PC-market? (customer needs, competencies & technology, distribution, # of applications available, ...)

  • What are the chances to succeed in the tablet-market as a PC/Laptop-maker? (see also "HP ditches tablet hopes" from Computerworld)

  • What are the (hardware) innovation drivers in the tablet market? (4G/LTE, battery life, ultra HD-displays, gesture/speech recognition, ...) - or put another way: will tablets be equipped with temparature sensors, NFC, ... serve as the next growth driver in hardware & applications?

  • Which (distribution) business models do tablets facilitate? Will mobile operators push it more as a bundle with LTE?

  • Are we currently experiencing a massive penetration in only two (quite large) segments of the PC market - management and private customers? What about tablets in office use for customer service, SAP, etc.?

  • ...

Some conclusions

  • tablets are definitely here to stay

  • the tablet-market is and will be very competitive and concetrated - as we are currently experiencing on the PC and Mobile Phone markets

  • still, I agree with Christoph Vilanek that Mobile Phones bear a lot more potential for technology driven innovation due to their form-factor, their nature as really personal devices and them being taken everywhere
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