Tablet Time?

So, as we deal with the inevitable age of the Tablet, the question is: why now?

This is something I see coming up a lot lately: why the heck are we suddenly enthusiastic about tablets (and by we I mean everyone).  Really, why is everyone so enthused about an idea that's about a decade plus old by now?

Actually I think it's because this is just the right time.

So how did we get here?

The idea of a tablet is something that just "works" for people.  A tablet is really a visceral concept because we all grew up writing on tablets, paper, etc.  Culturally people have been writing on tablets and clipboards, tracking things on abacuses and clay tablets, for aeons.  The tablet idea is something we are just used to.

So of course for years companies have been trying to make them work with various forms of success.  Tablets build on metaphors we as people – and many cultures – are just plain used to.

The success has eluded us except with simpler and smaller devices, because of . . .

Tablets are a great idea but have proven hard to make.  If you look at the various experiments over the years you can see quite a few starts and false starts, odd discoveries, and interesting limitations.  Consider a few things that tablets have faced:

  • Getting tablets to recognize writing.
  • Making the writing feel "proper"
  • Making a screen that displays and detects touches.
  • Making a screen that does the above and won't break easily.
  • Making it light enough to hold.

Ideas of tablets have been around for well over a decade.  But as technology has evolved, we now have good screens, light technology, and plenty of experience.  Tablets can be made at this time and do what people need them to do, and now . . .

Apple has been doing tablet and tablet-like technology for some time.  They were inevitably going to be the company to try a mass-produced mass-market one – the iPhone is really a mini-tablet anyway.  So for awhile everyone has been waiting with baited breath.

Of course other companies, knowing it was coming, worked on it too, and this gets accelerated because . . .

People accept smaller computers.  They want portability and performance.  Netbooks revealed an untapped – and unappreciated – need for decent mobile computing devices that aren't fancy.

With the netback normalized, the tablet is very acceptable.  So Apple's idea doesn't look like folly, it looks like a good bet.  Companies want a good bet because . . .


Right now the economy of the world is in a scary place.  With Netbooks doing well, Apple coming up with their master plan, and the tools there to make a good tablet, it seems like a good reason for companies to try.  There's usually a good amount of room int he hardware market anyway, there's room for many brands and types of tablet.

So why are we seeing the Arrival of The Tablet?  I'd say simply its the right time for it.  This is one of those events where many things come together for something to happen.

Now the question is how many brands will survive.  But with the desire there, the tech there, the market there, and the leads there, it's Tablet time.

– Steven Savage