Gartner: Multitouch sways users away from the keyboard

By Sooraj Shah
11 Oct 2011 View Comments
Apple iPad 2

Multitouch on media tablets has swayed users away from the keyboard and mouse due to its great simplicity and interaction with other devices, according to Gartner.

Gartner analysts examined how the iPad has affected the hardware industry and how users' expectations have changed in the report iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds.

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They predicted a change in the way we interact with devices.

"During the next five to 10 years, media tablets will instigate change in computing form factors. Modular designs will enable tablets to take on new functions, becoming the cross-platform controller and brain for hybrid consumer electronics and computers," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.

McIntyre added that touchscreens will be the first interface many people use when accessing the internet.

"Alternative user interfaces, such as multitouch, are essential for extending the deployment of computing devices into new markets," she said.

"Smartphones, tablets and tablet hybrids will become the first pathway to the internet for many. The keyboard on PCs is a major barrier for those who have had no reason or opportunity to become facile with qwerty."

Enterprise applications will not emerge from the change unscathed, since most are currently designed to work with a keyboard and mouse.

Ovum analyst Adrian Drury claimed the development stage has already changed due to the demand from the enterprise, as developers have to re-work the framework of applications in order to present them on a tablet.

"There is a demand from the enterprise for specific applications geared to specific jobs, and the framework for these applications has to be altered to suit multitouch," said Drury. 

A study compiled by CompTIA, an IT industry non-profit trade association, found that 37 per cent of SMEs already have tablets in place and a further 37 per cent plan on implementing them in the next year. However, the same survey found that only five per cent of SMEs believed tablets will replace other devices, and most SMEs would mainly use tablets for convenience.

Drury said SMEs may want to use tablets to innovate and yield greater productivity in the enterprise, but larger enterprises need a more structured approach, which has to come from a strategy overseen by the CIO.

He claimed that bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has affected business computing. Senior staff attempt to use their tablets to access enterprise applications such as email, data visualisation and Salesforce, forcing CIOs to question whether it is worth implementing work tablets.

"Employees' own devices are in parallel to the desktops and smartphones that are already given to them by the company. So it begs the question whether CIOs should provision BYOD or provide tablets," said Drury.

He added that CIOs from all enterprises will eventually supply tablets or provision BYOD, but only if there is a functional use for them. He stated that certain divisions, such as sales, may be given tablets as their work is mobile by nature.

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