Here's the short answer: because Forrester Research has just put out new projections of tablet sales over the next four years and they are meteoric. Within four years, one in three online consumers will be using a tablet, according to Forrester. I would advise you NOT to wait until 2015 to realize that this is a whole new medium.
Apple sold more than 10 million iPads in 2010. Based on exhaustive surveys with consumers, small to midsize businesses (that's SMBs) and the enterprise crowd, Forrester is estimating tablet sales to top 26 million units in the United States in 2011. That figure will go to more than 50 million in 2012, 67 million in 2013, 76 million in 2014, and 82 million in 2015.
That's a lot of tablet users.
Remember a few years ago when you had to launch a second website optimized for the mobile Web? Assuming you did it, aren't you glad now?
Well, ditto. Same song, second verse. Tablet users are coming and if you want to sell to them, talk to them, pitch to them, network with them, do business with them in any way, then you will need a website or app optimized for the tablet experience.
This is why I say its time to get a tablet if you don't have one. You don't get it until you become a user yourself.
Some things to consider as you consider this:
1. Notice what works and doesn't work as you experience apps and websites on a tablet.
2. Remember the tablet is a mobile device. Imagine where your consumers might be when they access you on a seven-to-10 inch touchscreen. For example, if you sell kitchen gadgets, what will this mean if your customers are connecting with your business while they are actually in the kitchen?
3. Remember the tablet is a computer. It's more than a smartphone. It's bigger and has the ability to run more sophisticated, richer applications than a phone.
4. Remember the tablet is not like a computer. It's touch.
5. Apple is no longer the only game in town. It's the major player and likely will remain the major player at least for the immediate future. However, Android tablets will be hitting the market hard this year. Just watch the tech headlines over the next several days as the Consumer Electronics Show is covered from Las Vegas. This year, they might as well call it the tablet show. It will be the major story with countless tablets being debuted to convention goers. Additionally, HP just announced a WebOS event in February that will likely be some sort of PalmPad. This is just the beginning of the tablet operating system wars. Follow them and don't let your business become collateral damage in the shakeout.
Is it time to take action, meaning move forward with a tablet strategy for your business? It depends on your business. Short answer: probably not. Ten million users nationwide are not a lot. What I am saying is that its time to get familiar with this medium while it is still in its infancy. Infancy will be fleeting. If you want to understand the mature adult medium this will be in a few short years, you need to be paying attention to its rapid development into maturity from now.
Bottomline: Go buy one.