Milanesi said customers want their tablets and phones operating on the same OS so they can “share applications across devices, as well as [have] the sense of familiarity the user interfaces will bring.”

Allegiance to a popular OS could be trouble for tablets that use the Web OS or MeeGo, because neither system has a ubiquitous smart phone that can attract customers to its tablet, according to the report.

Jean Coppola, associate professor of computer science and information systems at Pace University in New York City, said allegiance to operating systems is commonplace in higher education, with most students taking the Apple side of the Apple-Google smart phone and tablet battle.

“I do see a lot of brand loyalty out there,” she said. “And [Google and Apple] are both very strong companies constantly coming out with new things … so it’ll be an exciting next few years with this kind of competition.”

Coppola said the rising cost of college textbooks—about $1,000 annually, according to industry estimates—could drive students to tablets, especially if cheap or free digital textbooks can be downloaded on the mobile device.

“Students aren’t going to go anywhere without their tablet in the higher-education setting,” she said, adding that she expects popular learning management systems to be widely available on tablet operating systems. “Anything they need will be right there for them, and instant gratification is something students are always looking for.”

Tablet experts said the convenience of eBooks—and the subsequent elimination of the weighty backpack—would attract more students to tablets in coming years.


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