That was the title of an article in my Allegiance Technology newsletter from August 2009. Thanks to reader Ken Woods who sent me an email this morning reminding me of this article and why pundits and wags are idiots.
Here is the article:
Apple tablet coming soon? Will anyone care?
One of the most ubiquitous rumors on the internet is the alleged Apple
Tablet PC. Bloggers and pundits are imagining everything from an
iPhone with a large (7-10") display to an internet and multimedia device that
will do everything including walk the dog and watch your kids.
My question: Who cares?
I own an iPhone, so I'm not an Apple-hater. I think their technology
is very intuitive and with the software applications available, the
iPhone is my favorite technology device (AFTER my tablet PC, of course!).
The mobile computing market is a good sized one but tablet PCs are a
small part of that. For Apple, who already has only a small piece of the
overall PC market, a tablet PC would likely be too small to be profitable.
That's why I think an Apple Tablet is vaporware. Time will tell if I am
I'm working on a presentation about new mobile technology for a local organization. As I was updating my Powerpoint to include new Tablets like the HP Slate 500, I came to the realization that the popular media analysis of low-cost tablets sounding the death of traditional Tablet PCs is just wrong. Of course technology is getting cheaper, smaller, faster and better - that has been the case for a long time. But the $500 tablet costs that little because it actually does less and has more limited capabilities than a traditional tablet. Let me give you an example of how I see it.
The traditional "new tablet" benchmark is, of course, the Apple iPad. The basic model is $499. You get a lot, but what you don't get is an operating system that runs all your existing applications, a large hard drive (the base unit is 16Gb), a USB port or a removable battery. Next on the Path of Increasing Price is the CTL 2go Pad. Now, we have a Windows Tablet but still just an Atom processor. It has a larger hard drive but no active digitizer and no rear facing camera. It costs $549 with Home Premium and $604 with Windows 7 Professional.
Next on the Yellow Brick Road of Tablets is the HP Slate 500, the most powerful yet, but also now priced at $799. It has a more powerful Atom processor (no Core 2 Duo or Core i5/7), comes with a pen and has a rear facing camera, comes with Windows Professional 32-bit and a standard 64Gb SSD. Very nice specs but as you can see, the price increases with that.
These prices are still below what manufacturers like Lenovo and Motion Computing charge for their full-featured Tablet PCs, but they also offer additional capabilities like larger, active digitizer displays, outdoor viewability, larger hard drive and SSDs, more memory and other features.
As always, look at your applications and let them dictate the correct device on which to run them. Just don't be lulled into believing that sub-$1,000 tablets are the answer to all your dreams because they will provide only satisfy some of them.
Software solutions from companies like Active Ink, Mi-Co, Field2Base and others take advantage of capabilities found in Windows tablets that just don't exist in Apple and Android tablets yet. The ability to link to a database, incorporate handwriting recognition, bring in data from barcode and RFID readers, import pictures, do sketching and more is what can help businesses improve their processes.
These electronic forms solutions are the real "killer apps" for Windows tablets. The productivity that can be realized by employing this technology makes a significant contribution to the bottom line of a company that uses paper forms in the field or in the office. If Microsoft wants to regain dominance in the Tablet PC world, helping these companies increase their ability to market solutions to the business community is going to be a key item.
This week I'm in Seattle at the FIREHOUSE Software End User Training Symposium. Over 400 fire department personnel that use FIREHOUSE Software (FH)are to learn about how to take advantage of the capabilities of the software. FH has just released an inspection module that runs on the iPad. Their sales people in the field all carry Motion or Panasonic tablet PCs. Which will win the hearts and minds of the fire fighting community?
The iPad is inexpensive and that seems to be the #1 reason that people give, stating they can "buy five of them for every tablet PC". I can't dispute that. What is important is all the features that the iPad doesn't offer that are important for fire inspectors in the field. These include the ability to run other Windows applications, the ability to capture signatures with a pen, ruggedness, sketching with a pen and more. Using the handwriting recognition, inspectors can add notes about unusual situations without having to try and tap on an on-screen keyboard with their fingers.
For other FH software like incident command, a Motion F5v with hot-swappable batteries means you can run it 24 hours a day just by keeping another battery charged. With the optional barcode reader, firefighters can do personnel accountability and station/truck inventory.
The Apple iPad is a great device and for those that don't mind the limitations of how it can be used in the field can be a choice but for those that want to take full advantage of all the software that runs on their desktop or laptop, the Motion F5v can't be beat.