Tablets are hard to swallow - Business Works
BW brief

Tablets are hard to swallow

BW tech desk
I f technology had flavours of the month, they would be ‘tablets’ and ‘the cloud’. And although ‘the cloud’ is a new term for a collection of relatively old-hat software, it has been rebranded as such to compliment the sudden wave of media consumption devices, principally tablet computers.

The tablet is by no means a new creation by tech standards. Microsoft showed the first recognisable prototype of a tablet back in 2001, but like most modern computer hardware its roots can be traced back to the ‘Star Trek’ television series.

Science Fiction? Of course, but the point of this is to show that the idea of a personal tablet has been in development for as long as the laptop. So why has there been a surge of tablet computers in recent years? The more enlightened might say that this is due to an exponential improvement in micro-processing and material manufacturing, but you’d be wrong. An HP Compaq TC1000 series from 2004 has superior processing power, graphics, display, battery and was cheaper than a current iPad (seriously, look it up). Was it, in Apple's words in 2010, "A magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price"? At the time yes. Did it revolutionise business? No. Did it change the world? No. So what has changed between then and now?

The PC, in a sense, reached perfection a long time ago. In terms of personal usage, there is virtually nothing you cannot do on a modern computer, and if there is, it is simply because the tech world has not invented it yet. The hotly-contested smartphone market can now only fluctuate in terms of market share. The big players have already thrown their hats into the ring with three operating systems: Apple, Windows and Android, and it is as much as developers can cope with. The smartphone market is where the real innovation (money) is, but graphical display is what the public sees first, not processing, and smartphone screen sizes have reached a practical limit. And so to open up a new front the big companies, namely Apple, have created a product whose estimated sales are driven entirely by brand loyalty and consumer excess.

Without trying to sound (too) sceptical let’s look at this objectively. Hardware has simply not developed as much as software since 2005 and both are now dwarfed by brand loyalty in this technology ‘war’. So Apple, leading the way again, has tried to sell the concept of a tablet to businesses. Not small, medium or large, they have simply used the blanket term ‘business’. Cue young ‘business types’ using a tablet’s touchscreen display to show a client a document that they could have just printed out. Really, is that the best that they can do?

A tablet, quite literally, sits between a smartphone and a computer. Although earlier tablets (pre-iPad if you can imagine) tried to emulate the full computer experience as much as possible, current versions are sold with modified smartphone technology, using slightly superior hardware and a tweaked OS to create a seamless user experience between the devices. The manufacturers clearly expect you to have both the tablet and the accompanying smartphone. So what’s the point of the tablet?

Basically, it’s a lifestyle product - something for people to be seen to be using.

Sold as ‘innovative’ (which it isn’t), or the brilliant ‘it does everything’. Could you be more specific? If I’m sitting at my desk with a half-decent laptop and a smartphone, what makes me put them away and pick up the tablet? An app for learning the piano, or perhaps watching videos or viewing pictures on a fingerprint covered screen? You’d struggle to sell it as an executive toy, like a PDA (remember those?).

It says nothing about you or your business other than, "We’ve spent hundreds on this device, so we can show you these documents on this device."

Even ink doesn’t cost that much!

Tweet article
BW on TwitterBW RSS feed