In the last few months, Lenovo has made a flurry of announcements around its new Smart Tab tablets and the accessories that work with it. Here, we take a look at the new products by Lenovo and think about what it could mean for the future of tablet technology.
The Problem of Tablets
Tablets are one of those products that tech companies have struggled to find a market for. When you look for a device with good processing power or for hardcore gaming, you will probably want a desktop. When you want a portable device that is easy to use, you are most likely to use a powerful smartphone. If you want a compromise of both, the most popular choice is a laptop. Tablets seem not to have a clear market. With that in mind, it is not too surprising that Deloitte in 2017 predicted we had reached ‘peak tablet’ and found that across all demographics and all activities, nobody preferred to use tablets.
Lenovo wants to change that, and have recently announced a new range of tablets specifically designed “to challenge the status quo in the tablet category”. They think that tablets ought to be the central device management platform of the internet of things – more simply, that tablets should be the ‘controller’ for all your future smart technologies.
This fundamental reappraisal of the market could shake up the tablet sector if Lenovo is successful. To make this push, Lenovo has released a new line of Lenovo Smart Tabs designed to work with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to take advantage of the growing smart speaker market. It has also unveiled its new family of smart products to put the Lenovo Smart Tab at the core of a connected home.
Why is the Lenovo Smart Tab Different?
Lenovo already has had some successful tablets on the market. However, the company has said before that the tablet market is shrinking because, while people enjoy using tablets, consumers do not see a purpose for them. Looking at the growing smart speaker market, Lenovo sees an opportunity to give tablets that purpose. By making the Lenovo Smart Tab the central device that manages all other smart products, they hope to provide a device that people enjoy using a purpose for using it – controlling the technology around their home – and offer a fantastic product as a result.
Their key to the market is through making their tablets Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. At the moment, Google and Amazon utterly dominate the smart speaker market in the West. Estimates put the market share of Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa at between 80% to 90% of the smart speaker industry. The rivalry of the two companies has also become more and more apparent over the last twelve months. Initially, the Amazon Echo launched with Youtube compatibility, but Google disabled that feature from Amazon’s products. In retaliation, Amazon prevented new Nest products from being sold through its stores, escalating the conflict. Many products are compatible with one of these virtual assistants but not the other.
Lenovo has already announced its new Smart Displays range earlier this year, a Google Assistant-powered competitor to the Amazon Echo (the smart speaker hardware which runs Alexa). It was initially not hard to see Lenovo’s Smart Range as Google’s proxy challenge to Amazon’s smart home technology, and by most reviews, Lenovo’s range was faring exceptionally well in the market.
By releasing the Smart Tabs, a new line with Alexa compatibility, Lenovo has now truly entered the market as a third competitor against the two giants in providing virtual assistants.
Is the Future Bright?
There are a lot of reasons to think that Lenovo’s Smart Tabs gamble might pay off. Despite the growing Internet of Things industry, the main reason the industry has not taken off is fragmentation – those who make smart technology make their technology exclusive to their brand and incompatible with their competitors. As a result, you either have to buy all your smart technologies from one supplier – who might not have a wide enough range of smart products for your tastes – or you have to use a large number of different controllers to manage all your smart devices. Most consumers are turned off by both options and do not adopt smart technology at all.
Where most smart technologies are incompatible, Lenovo’s inclusivity with different technologies from out the starting gate gives good signals. The company has released a variety of smart technologies to work with its tablet in recent months. The recently announced smart lightbulb and smart plug let you remotely control and schedule the devices attached to them. The Lenovo Smart Camera is a surveillance device that allows you, through a Smart Tab, monitor live footage of your home, even at night through infrared vision, and has a built-in two-way audio system. These are what Lenovo calls its ‘Smart Essentials’, implying a future rollout of further devices. Combine the compatibility of these devices with compatibility with Google Assistant and Alexa, and Lenovo is making very positive signals.
Besides, the two sectors Lenovo is breaking into are very popular among consumers. The connected home industry (‘Internet of Things’ technologies that work in a residential home) has been growing rapidly in the last few years, particularly with the mass rollout of smart meters. The smart speaker sector has also increased by almost 200% in the second quarter of 2018 with nearly 17 million units shipped. Lenovo is a massive business, and so is perfectly poised to take advantage of these emerging new markets to provide great products to consumers.
While this is all early speculation, Lenovo has a history of producing strong tablets. The Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 had received fantastic reviews as a TV and film tablet with excellent video quality and battery life. We personally know the tablet has been successful because of how well our Lenovo Yoga Tab 3 Pro Screen Protectors have sold on our site! However, the Smart Tab is a significant change in direction and opens up a new type of tablet produced by the company. Whether the gamble pays off, only time will tell.