At the Helm: Tablet takeover

This month, we’re taking you inside the tablet revolution, looking at how these mobile computers and their smartphone counterparts have changed the way the boating industry does business.

Tablets have grabbed our attention like no other technology before them. Through the fall of 2012 (before the important holiday season), Apple said they had sold 84 million of the various versions of the iPad, the dominant tablet brand. In September 2010, just 4 percent of American adults owned tablets. In fall 2011, it was 10 percent. That number hit 25 percent in October, according to the Pew Research Center.

And these tablet owners are prime buyers for boats, falling right into the average dealer’s target demographics. Among those 30 to 49, 31 percent own a tablet. In the 50 to 64 age group, it’s 27 percent. Nearly half of those making more than $75,000 a year own one, as do 32 percent of those with annual incomes between $50,000 and $75,000. Ownership cuts across all ethnicities, with 27 percent of whites, 26 percent of blacks and 20 percent of Hispanics owning tablets.

The even bigger surprise has been the use of the iPad as a business tool. Businesses in every industry are finding new and creative ways to use tablets to make themselves more efficient. Taking a look around the educational sessions at MDCE this year, it was amazing to see the number of dealers, suppliers and service providers taking notes on their iPads instead of using pen and paper.

Obviously we think it’s a big deal, too. That’s why we’ve dedicated a significant chunk of this issue to tablets. The market continues to change rapidly with new competitors entering and exiting the market every day. If you’re not an Apple fan, that’s OK, too, with the open Android operating system rapidly gaining market share. The impressive Google Nexus, for example, delivers an arguably superior experience to the iPad. The Microsoft Surface, for you Windows fans, has also just hit the market, albeit to mixed reviews.

Your fellow dealers are certainly finding good use for tablets. Starting on p. 14, you can hear from them about how they are using tablets at their companies in sales, service and more. We’ve also got information about how tablets and mobile technology are changing the way your potential customers shop and what that means for your business.

Finally, we’ve put together a round-up of some of the latest technology and best small business and industry-specific apps to help you make your purchasing decisions. Look for more of those online at as well.



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