Like smartphones, and despite being labeled as having a consumer-oriented form factor, tablets are slowly making their way into the desks of employees and business executives. Latest statements from Gartner reveal tablets’ strong potential for business and corporate use–in addition to consumer use.

According to the latest Gartner forecast, worldwide tablet sales will reach 63.6 million units in 2011–a 261.4% increase from its 17.6 million sales in 2010. With this strong growth rate, tablet sales are expected to reach 326.3 million units by the end of 2015.

In a report on eWeek Europe, Gartner vice-president and analyst David Willis, who addressed participants at the Symposium/ITxpo 2011 on Australia’s Gold Coast, was quoted noting that business applications and tablets are moving past being productivity tools into the realm of more serious secure enterprise applications for supporting businesses.

Gartner named top 10 commercial business application categories used in tablet devices:

  1. Sales automation system, sales presentations, and ordering systems
  2. Business intelligence: analytical and performance applications
  3. Collaboration applications for meetings
  4. File utilities for sharing and document distribution
  5. Sharing and document distribution file utilities
  6. General corporate/government enterprise applications
  7. Medical support system
  8. Hosted virtual desktop agents
  9. Social networking applications with intelligent business insight
  10. Board books

Willis warns, however, about using tablets in the same manner as desktops or browser applications. According to Willis, tablet vendors must not duplicate the traditional desktop or browser experience. Rather, vendors ought to “re-factor the apps in meaningful ways.”

By Gartner estimates, the combined sales of smartphones and tablets will be greater than PC sales by 44% in 2011, and by end of 2014, the installed base of computing devices running mobile operating systems will surpass the total installed base of all PC systems. More than 900 million tablets will have been sold to consumers by 2016.

People and workers are relying more on tablets to help them in their work. CEOs, for example, mostly prefer tablets for distributing materials during board meetings, while sales personnel use tablets for client-facing situations.

Are you using a tablet for work?  Under what usage scenarios do you use it?

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