tablet vs. notebooks sf Was Black Friday the day of reckoning for the laptop?

Since the launch of the iPad back in 2010, the tablet has grown greatly in popularity. While laptops have clenched onto their position as the leading computing device for years now, this year may be the year that notebook computers fall from grace. And Black Friday’s bonanza sales on tablets certainly didn’t help the cause of the traditional computer.

While most analysts agree that tablets will outsell laptops in North America next year, it will still take some time for the new era of computing to sweep up the rest of the world. Analyst Richard Shim of NPD predicts that it will take until 2015 for the rest of the world to catch up to the new trend in mobile computing.

But is Shim’s prediction of Black Friday being the catalyst for tablet’s success over notebooks valid? Well, while non-apple tablets have been bulky, pricy offerings during their first generation, real competitors to Cupertino’s all-purpose slab have really started to kick off this year, with the new Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7 showing us what “affordable” tablets were really capable of.

The traditional upgrade cycle of notebook and desktop computers has thus been disrupted by the rise in tablet computing, and this has been clearly reflected in Black Friday’s sales, where tablets have a much more substantial presence in stores than laptops.

Some analysts however, feel that the low-cost Android tablets for under $100-$150 are in fact hurting the cause of the tablet. Certainly top brands such as Samsung, Apple, Google, and Microsoft didn’t discount their flagship models too much, as it would have damaged their reputation. Apple gave out some vouchers, but Microsoft probably felt that its surface was already competitively priced, even during the hectic sales holiday of Black Friday.

NPD’s Stephen Baker feels that “the budget Android tablets are generally not good for the tablet market."

"They generally send out a price message that is not realistic for the major brands,” he added.

For now at least, it seems that tablets are in style, and laptops are not. It will be the sales figures for this year that tell us the whole story though.