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It started in 2011

Apple sold around six million iPads every three months last year. According to some estimates, it sold 11 million in the fourth quarter alone. Experts now peg tablet sales for 2012 at over 70 million -- a figure that could change dramatically depending on how non-iOS players perform. 

Strong competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 and Sony Tablet S already exist, while potential biggies, like the dual-core Android 3.0 Nvidia Tegra 2 CPU or Tegra 3 with Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 OS, wait in the wings. Even as you read this, every vendor and his aunt is working on a potential iPad-buster while Apple, of course, will focus on the iPad 3.

Back in 2010, the possibility of a tablet controlling your television set or acting as a replacement for your newspaper seemed far-fetched. Not many may smirk at the suggestion today. Schools are more open to using them, as are hotels and hospitals.

2012 will inevitably be a year of matters related to tablets: Platforms, services and strategy, the need for manufacturers to differentiate their products, a re-examination of business models, the thorny issue of price barriers and the possibility of a smaller or cheaper iPad.

The interesting thing about 2011 isn't that these names -- or, more importantly, numbers -- made it our Year of the Tablet. It's what that actually meant for the idea of personal computing. IBM introduced its first PC in 1981 with a 8088 processor and 16 KB of memory. Think about that for a while.

big hit in 2012: Tablets and platforms
Flexible devices are a definite possibility in the months to come, if video footage of some conceptual tablets is anything to go by. Some manufacturers are exploring options with AMOLED (active-matrix organic light-emitting diode) display technology, which could make tablets of 2011 look like relics. Technology aside, I think the big leap will be in services, as the user-base expands. 3D games, translation services, payment gateways -- there are some areas I foresee changes in. It all boils down to adoption: if a significant number of people insist on conducting business via tablets, applications will arise to make their lives simpler.
-- Salil Chandrashekar, co-founder, Snapwork Technologies