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Mar 10

Can this tablet thing be a massive fad?

Apple, Tech, iPhone Add comments


I mean, who buys Hula Hoops, Furbies, and lava lamps no mo?

Farhad Manjoo lays out his case on how the iPad could be unbeatable, and how competitors may be just hoping that the tablet is a fad.

I know that the iPad was purchased more than any laptop from another manufacturer… but I can also sniff the fad.

I remember getting the first iPad… such a long couple of years ago. At first it was fun to explore the touch interface, and I carried it everywhere I went. I felt like a dork pulling it out for meetings, so I kept it tucked away, but it had its place.

Shortly thereafter however, I got a MacBook Air, which is by far the best computer I have ever owned. Comparing my iPad to my 17″ Macbook Pro was different to the new work of the light, small, SSD packing, powerful Macbook Air. At this point the iPad stayed in my bag so much more. It turned out that having a keyboard was a nice feature! As was this “hinge” thing that meant that I didn’t have to hold the device…. and I could have multiple windows on the same screen (which was nicer than putting my iPad in a keyboard dock say).

My iPad is now a niche product. I enjoy it for certain tasks, mainly content consumption, but it is niche. So…. maybe this is a fad! The iPad killer could be the Macbook Air! In fact, the killer could be an Air with a retina display and the ability to touch the screen and undock it!

That doesn’t work though, as the UI would then end up in old Windows stylus land. OS X isn’t ever going to be touch friendly like iOS. Mixing and matching iOS and OS X though? Mmmm.

Then I turn from myself, and I think about my Mum and mother-in-law. I got them both iPads in short order as I saw a consumer-oriented OS for the first time. Instead of being afraid of messing up their computer, or worrying about viruses and the like…. they were free to explore and get things done. They would never go back to an OS of yore. Surely this market is the lion share. Add to that the fact that iOS will grow and grow, and I think that the fad isn’t here chaps. Time to dig in and execute.

But, there lies the other problem that Farhad Manjoo articulated. Many have told me that iOS vs. Android will end up as MacOS vs. Windows. “History will repeat itself”. That assumes that the same natural forces are in play, and I think there are huge differences. One big one is that the CLONES can’t just come in and win here. I had a huge gulp when I HP bought Palm and I quickly saw that we couldn’t make a tablet for the same price as the iPad. HP. They have scale. And, they couldn’t do it. Apple loves their margins and all, but they have a lot of room to make life reaaal hard for any competitor. You can’t just make something meh and cheap and win.

Also, the nail in the coffin, we have seen the tablet in the future…. on Star Trek, as seen at the top of this entry. Maybe a hip flash is good enough.

3 Responses to “Can this tablet thing be a massive fad?”

  1. Axel Rauschmayer Says:

    I don’t think tablets are a fad. They are a different form factor that works in different situations (e.g. in bed, in the kitchen, in situation where a notebook is too obtrusive, etc.). Many people don’t even want keyboards! When I showed my physiotherapist my iPad, her eyes lit up – and I’m pretty sure that in general, she more or less hates computers. That doesn’t mean I’ve fully figured out what tablets actually are (probably the main tablet hurdle for professional tech people), but I know that they are complementary to keyboard computers.

    As for the perfect convertible device: I have yet to see any “dockable screen” solution that works well, mechanically. However, the iPad’s support for Bluetooth keyboards is surprisingly good. So this pairing constitutes the perfect convertible device for me. Except for one thing: Having to touch the screen while using the keyboard is awkward (ironically, Apple itself has figured that out a while ago). So, I would simply give the current iPad UI a cursor, the Bluetooth keyboard a trackpad, and be done with it [1].

    Beating Apple can be done, they have left several windows open for competitors, especially software-wise. But so far, competitors have been incredibly sloppy. And, to be sure, the hardware part of Apple’s products is very hard to compete with. I’m hoping that B2G will make a difference and that Mozilla is disciplined enough.


  2. Rob Says:

    The Macbook Air is just an iPad with an attached keyboard which makes all the difference. I do appreciate my iPad version one for reading and movie watching and especially in the car.

  3. Edwin Khodabakchian Says:

    Interesting read. To me, the iPad/iOS versus MacBook Air/MacOS is not as worrying as the app vs web discussion: the biggest difference I see between iPad and MacBook Air is not the keyboard or touch screen but the time spent in the browser.

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