The Tablet Era Arrives

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Last night I put the ballgame on my TV, turned off the sound, pulled on some headphones, and watched a different TV show on my Amazon ( AMZN) Kindle Fire.

Meanwhile, my wife read a succession of books on her Kindle and, in her college dorm, our daughter played with her new Apple ( AAPL) iPad.

The tablet era was supposed to arrive slowly, eMarketer wrote in 2011 but instead it came in with a bang.

The latest reports from market research company IDC tell the tale. Tablet sales up 142% year over year in the first quarter. PC sales down almost 14%.

This doesn't just impact uponpeople in the tech space. It impacts upon every business.

That's because people behave differently when using a tablet. J.D. Power says people are more likely to share tablets than PCs. Tablets are far more likely to be open to browsers than PCs are.

While Apple has been losing tablet share steadily, mainly to Samsung, its customers seem very satisfied, according to the J.D. Power survey. Tablets are increasingly being used for business, not just for pleasure, even though businesses are now less likely to subsidize their purchase, preferring a passive "bring your own device" strategy.

From what I've seen among my own friends and relatives, tablets tend to live in living rooms and bedrooms, not offices. They're picked up to settle arguments with a quick Google search, or by kids bored with TV and parents. Amazon has geared its Kindle user interface to passive media consumption, and it's great for that.

What none of these surveys state explicitly, however -- what needs to be read between the lines -- is how tablets are also replacing TVs.

In the PC era we always saw the TV as the media consumption device, as a passive screen located across the room. But now the tablet is taking on more of that load. We're no longer restricted to consuming what is on cable. We're no longer sitting together around one screen. We can have the whole Internet on our laps. We can be together, but separate.

All this matters a great deal to marketers, according to eMarketer.

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