Gartner Special Report Examines How the iPad and Media Tablets Are Impacting the Future of Computing

STAMFORD, Conn., October 10, 2011 – Multitouch on the iPad and other media tablets has liberated users from the hardware keyboard and pointing device (aka the mouse), and as media tablets become more commonplace, users will expect the convenience and simplicity of multitouch user interfaces when they interact with other computing devices, according to Gartner, Inc.

In the Gartner Special Report “iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds,” Gartner analysts examine how the iPad has impacted the hardware industry, and how media tablets are changing what users will expect out of their computing 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. “Tablets will be substitutes for several of the consumer electronics consumers often carry with them. Thin-and-light mobile PCs with tablet-like features will become mainstream, pushing out some bulkier PC styles that have been the norm.”

Makers of PCs and consumer electronics are noticing the shift in consumer expectations and are incorporating features popularized by the iPad into the new products they are developing. Multitouch technology has become the de facto interface of high-end smartphones and media tablets, and will extend to additional consumer electronic devices and to PCs.

“Other hybrid designs leverage the flexibility of tablets to become the brains of consumer electronic devices,” Ms. McIntyre said. “One tablet can replace multiple dedicated electronics devices by connecting with different peripherals. Tablets docked in the dashboards of cars can replace dedicated navigation devices and in-car entertainment, and environmental controls. Wirelessly connect a blood pressure cuff, a bathroom scale and an oximeter to a tablet to create a home health monitor that can plot personal health trends and send the data to a doctor. Mount a tablet into a projector, and it becomes digital signage in a retail store or a device for streaming media via the Internet.”

Interface technologies can be clustered around five basic modalities. They include state of mind (of the user), human-computer hybrids, action detection, speech and biosensing. Of the interface modalities, action detection has been extensively used to this point because touch – for example, pressing a key, clicking a mouse or touching a screen – is the standard way to interact with computing endpoint devices, such as tablets, PCs and smartphones.

Gartner analysts said the iPad has created a transformational change in how people interact with computers.

“Alternative user interfaces, such as multitouch, are essential for extending the deployment of computing devices into new markets,” Ms. McIntyre 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.”

Additional information is available in the Gartner Special Report “iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds” at The Special Report includes links to nearly 20 research documents that examine how tablets are changing how people interact with computers.

Ms. McIntyre and David Willis, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, will host the webinar “iPad and Beyond: What the Future of Computing Holds” at 10 a.m. EDT and 1 p.m. EDT on October 27. To register for this complementary webinar, please visit

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) is the world’s leading information technology research and advisory company. Gartner delivers the technology-related insight necessary for its clients to make the right decisions, every day. From CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, to business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises and professional services firms, to technology investors, Gartner is a valuable partner to 60,000 clients in 11,500 distinct organizations. Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, Gartner works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT within the context of their individual role. Founded in 1979, Gartner is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, U.S.A., and has 4,500 associates, including 1,250 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. For more information, visit