The power of words was demonstrated over the Christmas period by the fact that Apple’s share price rose by 1% on the rumour that they would be launching a new tablet device.
Interesting though the questions raised by this sudden surge might be, others can speak to those much better than I could.
I am more interested in how such a device might succeed.
Despite what you might think, building a tablet PC is not hard. The form factor is just an extension of something like an iPhone and a quick look on eBay will show you how many Chinese companies can build an iPhone lookalike. For an operating system, well something like the excellent Jolicloud would be a good place to start or perhaps Moblin. Moblin in particular cries out for a touchscreen interface.
You create a central webstore/data repository, possibly using Amazon S3 or perhaps even Azure. The Tablet then becomes a window onto the Cloud with a transparent mix of local and webapps providing the user with ubiquitous data access via Syncplicity style synchronisation.
Easy. If you are a VC or an angel investor then give me a shout 🙂
So if it is easy then why is the world waiting for Apple?
I can think of 3 “good” reasons.
I have used tablet computers – both small ones like the Nokia 810 and Windows Tablet Edition laptops. Whilst they had an appeal they never became my main computer and soon fell into disuse. Did they ever make a profit? How many companies got burnt as a result?
Apple has a history of disruptive technological change – perhaps they can overcome this bitter experience of users and industry alike.
A tablet is nothing without its connections, it only has value as a window into a wider world. All computers are the same; your office PC is not a general purpose computer, it is a window into your corporate information and systems.
The iPhone Apps Store has created a vast and rapidly developing ecosystem which would be just right for a tablet. At the same time, the disruptive effect of the Web on all information and service intermediaries means that businesses are desperate for new business models which look as much as possible like their old business model.
The last reason is the deepest of all. What is a tablet for? People start off by eulogizing the potential of such a device but then very quickly trail off. We geeks may want a device which allows us to read RSS feeds in the bath but the vast, sensible mass of humanity do not.
But what happens as a tool becomes more ubiquitous? Look at how the iPhone has changed not just the smartphone market but people’s expectations of what a smartphone should do.
If a tablet allows you to carry your life with you in a small, secure form then what effect will that have on our culture and society?
Like everyone else reading this I will be buying an iPlate/iSlate/iiiMoosey, but at least I know that I have no idea why!
For now I will stick with the one tablet I know and trust 🙂