The fact that dollar sales are used as the measurement is especially interesting as tablet computers tend to be less expensive than desktop and laptop computers, although you can find exceptions. On the average, manufacturers have to sell more than one tablet to equal the revenue derived from the sale of one desktop or laptop computer.
Gartner only refers to sales of all computers for all purposes; but, if you read the articles in my newsletter, you will see many hints that genealogists are following the same trend.
For instance, when was the last time you saw an announcement about an all-new genealogy program for Windows or Macintosh? Here is a hint: there hasn't been any such announcement in a long, long time.
To be sure, the producers of Family Tree Builder, RootsMagic, Legacy Family Tree, The Master Genealogist, Ancestral Quest, Reunion, Family Tree Maker, MacFamily Tree, Family Historian, Heredis, and other desktop and laptop genealogy programs frequently release new updates, adding even more functionality to already great programs. However, those are not NEW programs but rather improved versions of existing programs.
I maintain a list of all the more popular Windows genealogy programs at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2010/06/genealogy-programs-for-windows.html. I used to update the list annually but have not done so now for more than three years. I just re-read the article this morning and realized that nothing new has appeared in the Windows marketplace in three years. There is no need for me to update the list. The same is true for the list of Macintosh genealogy software available at http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2013/03/genealogy-programs-for-macintosh.html.
HOWEVER, in stark contrast, the marketplace for genealogy software for iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, and Android mobile devices is exploding. I cannot even keep up with all the new genealogy apps for those operating systems. In addition, new cloud-based genealogy apps also appear every few months, and most of them can be used with desktop, laptop, and mobile devices alike. Examples of cloud-based genealogy apps include products from MyHeritage, Ancestry.com, The Next Generation, and others.
In short, genealogists are moving to mobile devices, often supplemented by huge databases and other features available in the cloud. Most all the interest these days is in mobile applications.
Desktop and laptop genealogy programs will not disappear overnight. You don't want to throw your present computer into the trashcan just yet. The shift to mobile devices will require several more years to complete. The mobile devices of today are not yet as powerful as the available desktop and laptop applications. However, that is the status of TODAY. We all know about the growth of computer power: it grows dramatically every year. The new iPad and iPad Mini tablets, along with the latest Android tablets, are as powerful and have as much storage capacity as the desktop computers most of us used ten or fifteen years ago. In fact, today's mobile devices typically have BETTER communications capabilities than the desktop and laptop systems of yesteryear.
Can you predict how much computing power, storage capacity, and communication capability your mobile device will have ten or fifteen years from now? How big will it be? Will you still want to use a heavy desktop computer that is not available to you anyplace other than at home? Or a five-pound laptop computer with dangling charger? Or will you want to use a one-pound iPad Air or a 3/4-pound iPad Mini or a similar Android tablet?
Actually, those are the weights of today's devices. I am sure mobile devices will be even smaller and lighter ten or fifteen years from now.
How about the display? Will we be looking at high-resolution but small Retina displays or at Google Glass that provides images as wide as the horizon? Or perhaps we will be looking at whatever technology replaces Google Glass?
Keyboards are already obsolete. Just ask anyone who uses Siri. Or, better yet, ask Siri yourself. It just works.
Comment: I have Siri on both an iPhone 5S and on an iPad Mini. I am constantly amazed at how well Siri works. I also know that it will become even better as the years go by. Of course, Apple's competitors are also designing Siri competitors and some of these new voice recognition apps may turn out to be even better than the original Siri.Indeed, the growth in genealogy applications is already evident in mobile devices. Today's producers of desktop genealogy software are all aware of the shift in technology and either have already released new products for mobile devices or are planning to do so in the near future. I suspect all the forward-thinking software producers will survive and will grow as they meet the demands of their customers. Even those who have already released mobile apps will continue to improve them and will continue to release new upgrades that further extend the capabilities of these tiny computers.
I can only repeat what I have already written many times: "It is an exciting time to be a genealogist!"