OK, so we have a little economic situation going on…maybe you’ve heard about it?
Since not only do I own TabletPCBuzz but also a company that just sells tablet PCs, I have been thinking a lot about what the current circumstances mean.
In the beginning (which I define as August 2003 when I started selling tablets) and through the beginning of last year, the majority of our customers were individuals. That doesn’t mean that they were using the tablet for personal use only, just that few organizations were deploying tablets company wide. Usually, it was a technology-loving executive that had enough juice to get a tablet instead of a laptop.
Since the 2nd quarter of 2008, we have seen a steady decline in individual purchases but a drastic increase in the number of companies who are purchasing multiple units for deployment. They are pairing tablets with software applications designed for their industry. The main industries we see using tablets are: construction, healthcare, inspection, appraisal and field service.
I’ll leave out healthcare for this discussion because I think that the other industries demonstrate why tablet PCs are here to stay. Have you ever seen a roofer use a regular hammer to put on a new roof? Probably not – a pneumatic nail gun does it much faster. Can you imagine a builder using a standard screwdriver to assemble framing? No way! They all use cordless electric drills.
The why is easy – using the right tool lets you do your work faster and better so you can make more money and finish jobs sooner. Tablet PCs are just another tool for these companies. They are used to replace yellow legal pads, inspection forms, work orders and all the other paper that slows down a business. Microsoft OneNote used to be the “killer app” for tablet PCs. I couldn’t have sold many without it. Now, however, few of our customers care about OneNote because they have an application for HVAC work orders or Property Adjustment inspection forms or Vehicle Repair logs that is specifically designed for their needs. As always, the software is what sells the hardware and tablet PCs as the ultimate tool for replacing paper forms has finally come to fruition.
We aren’t selling many tablets to people who want a shiny toy with some cool features. We are selling a lot of tablets to companies that can see the excellent return on investment provided by completing paperwork faster and more accurately while they are in the field.
In any economic situation, using technology to save (and make) money is just plain smart.
What is a tablet PC? The answer isn’t always easy to define and is being stretched and pulled by multitouch, pen based, capacitive touch and other forms of interacting with a PC that doesn’t depend on keyboard and mouse.
Ideum designs and creates interactive computer-based exhibits for museums and other organizations that want to create “experiences” for visitors that exceed those provided by more traditional touch screen kiosks.
It is a very cool looking device but I don’t know if it is Microsoft Surface or their own engineered device. You can see more information at www.ideum.com.