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Despite the promise of tablets to revolutionise mobile working, the laptop remains the preferred choice for the UK mobile workforce but the rise of hybrid devices, such as detachables and convertibles, threatens to topple the status quo.

The research, commissioned by Panasonic and undertaken by Dynamic Markets, surveyed more than 2,650 business technology buyers and users across 10 European regions (UK, Germany, France, Benelux, Italy, Spain, Russia, Turkey, Poland and Sweden).

In the UK, laptops are still used by 88% of employees for work activities, with 60% using a smart phone, 57% using a desktop computer and 24% using a tablet. Hybrid convertible or detachable devices are being used by 7% of the workforce.

Productivity rules

And when asked about the most productive device when working away from the office, 49% of UK workers and technology buyers said the laptop was top, with 22% saying a hybrid device, 18% picking the tablet and 8% the smartphone.

Rise of the hybrid

But looking to the future, the dominance of the laptop looks set to end with 31% of those sampled thinking the hybrid will be the dominant business computing tool within the next three years, with the laptop at 27%, the tablet at 17%, desktop PC at 10% and smartphone at 7%.

There can be only one

And if UK users could pick just one device in the future, the laptop is already beginning to come under threat with 38% choosing laptops, 27% opting for a hybrid, 11% for tablets, 9% for a desktop PC and 11% for a smartphone.

Clear drivers for change

The four main drivers for would-be adopters of hybrid devices in the UK were: more functionality and better availability of software (54%), better performance (41%), longer battery life (39%) and presence of a keyboard (43%). Another 24% were enticed by more interfaces available on such devices (e.g. more than one USB port etc), while (43%) were keen on the better connectivity / peripherals (e.g. smart card etc). 33% would relish a better screen, while 20% thinks hybrids are more robust.

There are clear signs that as users become more familiar with mobile PCs they understand how the addition of important features can make their work lives easier and more productive. More connectivity options can ensure the device works with important peripherals such as bar code readers, increased performance can make intensive graphic software available when on the move, better screens are designed for use outside in bright sunlight or poor weather.

Hybrids a threat to laptop’s crown

“This research clearly shows that the traditional laptop remains the dominant device for mobile workers in the UK business community, although the tablet has made significant in roads in a short space of time,” said Jan Kaempfer, General Manager of Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions. “But it is the rise of the convertible and detachable hybrid machines, only very recently introduced to the market, that threatens to topple the laptop’s crown. With their added capabilities and flexibility, it appears that these devices have already captured the imagination of user and buyers alike and will continue to take a much larger market share over the coming years.”

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