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Study: Wired devices + tablets = digital nirvana

Combine tablets and consumer devices in a market study, and you get questionable numbers. Combine them in your living room, and it's another story.

consumer devices vs. PCs chart
Are the green bars really taller than the blue bars, or are they just envious? IHS iSuppli August 2011

By the year after next, we'll buy more consumer devices that connect to the Internet than PCs, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli. Wow, more Internet-connected set-top boxes and game consoles than PCs? Actually, no. But there's an exciting story behind the story.

The study puts tablets in the consumer devices category, which is usually limited to devices like TVs, set-top boxes, DVD players, game controllers, and sound systems. IHS iSuppli already counts tablets in the separate category of mobile devices. Counting them again in the consumer devices category is questionable.

Counting tablets, a type of computer, in with devices gives a false impression. According to the study:

Internet-enabled consumer electronics devices... will surge to 503.6 million units in 2013, up from 161 million in 2010. In comparison, PC shipments during the same period will amount to 433.7 million, up from 345.4 million. In 2015, shipments of Internet-enabled consumer devices will [be] 780.8 million units, massively exceeding PC shipments of 479.1 million.

But half of the increase in Internet-enabled consumer device shipments is due to tablets. Put tablets back in mobile devices where they belong, and PC shipments still beat consumer devices--through 2015 anyway.

Combine consumer electronics and tablets in a different way--use them together--and you have a much more exciting story.

The study counts tablets as consumer devices to highlight the role tablets are poised to play in the connected home. Your tablet will be your conductor's baton and everything wired in your home will be the orchestra.

Today you can push music from your tablet to your sound system and video files to a big screen, and you can remotely control a PC from your tablet. Depending on your level of home automation geekiness, you could control your home itself from your tablet. Tablets are also poised to be robot controllers.

The combination of Internet-enabled everything in the home and handy tablets could finally bring about that futuristic lifestyle Hollywood and Madison Avenue has been teasing us with for years. Grab a seat, pull out your tablet and dim the lights, change the playlist, grab that work file off your PC, tell your circuit-brained servant to fetch you a frosty beverage--you know the fantasy.

Correction, August 12 at 11:15 a.m. PT: The original press release from IHS iSuppli misstated numbers for the rise in PC shipments from 2010 to 2013. PC shipments in 2013 are expected to be 433.7 million, up from 345.4 million in 2010.