As we approach the close of 2012 and reflect upon the unbelievable success of the iPad 2 this year, I think it also time to call a spade a spade, or in this case, a tablet as not a tablet. In the early part of this century, your humble writer was in fact selling PC laptops between other gigs in digital media. At the time, the ‘majors’ were releasing all manner of tablets to the public and trying to lure businesses to this ‘brave new world’ of computing. Even Microsoft was in on the act providing ‘Windows Tablet Edition’, which needed 500 Terabytes of RAM to run effectively, but to no avail.
No matter how slick Toshiba, Asus and the others made their tablets, the look on the faces of the businessmen I demo’d these machines to said it all – after scribbling some text onto the screen with a bulky stylus, they would furrow their brow and mutter..’yeah, but what can I use it for?’. That said it all – tens of millions of dollars poured into so called ‘tablets’ by the biggest computer companies in the world and the outcome … total c%#p. Not to put too fine a point on it… complete and utter c@%p. The majors demonstrated again that they have (had) absolutely NO IDEA how to make a tablet computer and how it could be used effectively.
So here is my premise – the big computer/IT companies had many years to try the create and market (and sell) ‘tablet’ computers and they failed miserably – so they can HAVE the label ‘tablet’, along with the unadulterated failure that this implies. They can own it and have it.
The iPad is not a tablet. The iPad works – it is not a ‘technical’ item, nor does it require a computer degree to operate. It just works. It provides the kind of natural experience that digital media companies have been trying to perfect for years, and only Apple has been able to do it. The years of failure to get people to video call, configure their browsers, set up voice control, the myriad of other shockingly bad interfaces of the past.. this is the legacy of the tablet makers.. not of Apple.
So, to define a product as being within a category you must look at how much that product dominates or competes within that category, what the competition is, the future sales outlook, and finally whether the product will remain viable within the category. The iPad is the category.
Within 12 months 95% of the computer/consumer device buying population will be saying ‘yeah, I’m thinking of buying an iPad’, not ‘yeah, I’m thinking of buying a tablet.’
The iPad is an iPad – it is not a tablet.