The advent of the affordable touch screen tablet changed personal computing for everyone. Up until now, our computers consist of desktops, laptops, and netbooks. The devices are capable of most anything. One computer can essentially do everything. But a tablet is a new breed. Observing the market, most people started with a common mentality, “my tablet should be a replacement for my computer.” But Amazon has proven us wrong, a tablet does not have to be a desktop or a laptop replacement, it can be a standalone device that performs specific functions. A new wave of technology is upon us, and we might not be ready for it.
Thinking back to the smart phone, we have historic devices such a the Treo, the Windows Mobile phone and the Blackberry. The Windows phone failed because it was an attempt to emulate a full computer experience on a 3 inch screen. The power required to smoothly run a comprehensive OS on such a small device did not exist yet, and we can see from netbooks that a small and compressed version of a desktop OS does not always work smoothly.
The Treo was a different take on the smart phone. It was the Treo failed because of a buggy OS and expensive hardware. The software was had many problems, the phones crashed, and the touch screen cramped and unresponsive. It seemed like the smartphone was just something for techies with deep pockets. Having worked with both, it was apparent that these phones and OS’s were just attempting to compress a desktop experience on to a small screen.
The Blackberry was a work of art though. It was not an attempt to bring a full computer experience to the user, but a collection f the most necessary features a business man needed: email. In the late 90′s and early 2000′s, the Blackberry reigned supreme as a smartphone without even being known as one, it was like Kleenex is to tissues, it was just a Blackberry. It worked for what it was meant to do.
Then Apple came along and rocked the boat. They brought the iPhone to the user. Steve Jobs understood that the common user and consumer only think they know what they want, but they don’t. You have to present the user with a product that just works. Simple and clean. The iPhone was not a desktop experience; It was a left turn from what consumers thought they wanted. They thought they wanted ultramobile PC’s and windows phones, what they really wanted was a simple device that just worked. Shortly after, Google followed with its Android OS.
The same can be said about tablets. Windows tried releasing Windows XP Tablet PC edition and while a great attempt, they failed to create a truly functional experience. The windows tablets were limited by hardware and a lack of software. Making point and click software work with a stylus was just not faster, easier, or more intuitive.
The iPad and Android tablets have shown that users do not necessarily need a full desktop experience. The ones that do are a small fraction of the common consumer. The typical consumer needs it for watching digital content, browsing the web, reading, and sometimes work related needs. But if we look are our computer habits today, we dont really need most of the function a computer offers. A tablet is the perfect alternative. Tablet are becoming more specialized as well. The most popular tablet after the iPad is Amazon’s Kindle Fire. The tablet is a modified Android OS that is “limited” from a full Android OS experience, but seems to be what the people want. In this day and age, it is not about the computer that can do everything. It honestly never has been a computer that can do everything, but a computer that can make the users life easier.