Apr 24, 2012

Will tablets become the core of users' computing experience?

Forrester Research just released a forecast that projects the tablet will become "the preferred, primary device for millions of people around the world" within the next 4 years. I'm not sure that I'm buying that, but then again I would not have anticipated the market penetration of smartphones had I been asked about it 4 years ago. I actually see some things that were listed as why the tablet would take center stage as reason to doubt it. For example, the tablet having a touch screen instead of a keyboard was seen as a reason it would be preferred over a laptop. Tablets may be great, but I've never, ever heard a single person who claimed typing on one was as fast and easy as typing on a keyboard. I just don't see tablets as full spectrum tools yet.  Am I wrong? Will tablets soon become the primary computing platform for most people?

Tablets are great for consuming content, but not so great for creating it. I love my iPad, it's fantastic for ebooks, netflix, the web, etc. But I couldn't get much work done on it, compared to using an iMac.

So the iPad is for the times I want to consume content, and the iMac works great for my content producing work. Both are terrific devices, but each serves a different purpose.

I'm not so sure.  Tablets are sweet for certain purposes, less so for others.  I love watching me some Netflix on a tablet, I hate drafting documents on one.  So I can see how tablets could be the center of the consumer computing universe, but I doubt it will be the case for us working stiffs.  The big thing is the keyboard.  Sure there are cases that contain keyboards and you can use apps like Swipe that make "typing" on a screen more bearable, but I am willing to bet that I can type 50 more words per minute at a conventional keyboard than on a touch screen.  Same with using spreadsheets.  Sure, I can do it on a tablet, but I don't like it.


But there is one thing that could improve the usefulness of tablets greatly, the use of voice, and Apple is already leading the way down this road with Siri.  If you could cleanly dictate or manipulate data through voice commands as smoothly as you can currently with a keyboard, I could see a lot more laptops being displaced.  Of course, then you are going to go through the day with the never ceasing din of everyone talking to their tablets.  That may sound like a little joke, but it isn't very funny if you have had the experience of waiting in line with someone who loves talking to Siri on their 4S.  

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