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I have been a tablet user for many years, far before the tablet craze came about. My first tablets were 'convertables', essentially laptops with flip-over screens that you could write on with a stylus. They were a best-of-both-worlds solution. You could type on the full keyboard, and then expressively write directly on the display.

The pen-on-screen movement was admittedly not the best interface. It was difficult to move the pointer around like a mouse, but some applications worked quite well. It was fabulous as a graphics design tool! Drawing with a pressure-sensitive pen is perfect for digital art. It was also perfect to edit/comment on documents. A big, bold circle with the words "What are you, crazy?" hand written in thick ink certainly gave the author of the document a clear indication of what I thought.

I still use a convertable tablet as my main work device. But when people today say 'tablet', they mean a whole different beast. Today's tablets, like the ubiquitous iPad, are thinner, lighter, multi-touch sensitive, and designed as killer media consumption devices. I must confess, I LOVE my iPad (or should I say, my half an iPad, as I bought it as a joint venture with my son). It is fantastic on trips. With music, movies, books, games, notes, etc. all packed into an easy to read form factor, it is a natural for my business travel. It even fits on the teeny-tiny space between me and the guy in front who has his seat fully reclined. I love to travel with it (when my son lets me).

The iPad is clearly the market leader. Is there room for anything else? Other tablets have tried....and failed, to really make a dent in Apple's market share. To be 'better', you first have to be 'different'. And that's where Amazon's new Kindle Fire comes in.

It's early days for the Kindle Fire (it hasn't even shipped yet), but it's clear that it has the chance to be 'the tablet for the rest of us'. It's inexpensive, it's connected to media and shopping, and it comes from a trusted consumer brand. A brand that is already at the top of the e-reader market. This one's got a legitimate shot! I think they'll have to do something about third-party apps (where Apple makes a killing), but time will tell. In the meantime, the tablet market continues to thrive.

What do you think about tablets in general, and the Kindle Fire in particular?


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Reader Comments (2)

Tablets in general...

I have a Thinkpad Transnote in my basement. I bought it for myself in 2001 and it was good for its day but it now feels like such as relic.

The thing I think is so different about the iPad is the focus on consistent, delightful user experience. This is a game changer but Apple's approach may become the new norm. This will be good for all of us who use technology in our day to day existence. Apple are raising the bar and as a result our expectations are rising. They are raising the bar not just for tablets but consumer expectations of software in general are rising.

One interesting thing about delighting a customer with a product is that as soon as you have delighted them they have moved on. What delights them today is just expected tomorrow as 'table stakes'... so we have to work harder and harder to delight customers.

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

I believe tablets will ultimately define the difference between production and consumption roles in business - and elsewhere.

When I make videos, I use a video camera. I could use a cell phone or tablet but the results are simply not very good. Conversely, I could watch my videos on my camcorder, but again the experience is not great (Aside: these are not static assumptions. We must revisit them often. Someday my cell phone will likely take video that will be good enough to stand the test of time).

Along the way, I could edit my video on a tablet (I've done this when a tablet was all I had.) A notebook computer - or a desktop with two 30" monitors - still rule when doing this type of content production.

A tablet is great for watching the results of my work. I can also use it to comment on someone else's video - or even write this posting. As such, tablets are not purely consumption devices. They are more like televisions with a really good 21st century, two-way remote control.

The winners in the tablet space will be those who understand the customer and deliver the right solution. With respect to production and consumption models, winners will find the right balance between consumption (easy) and production (hard).

October 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCraig

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