Tablets and their normalising
From Benadict Evans:
"That is, someone would ask a vaguely technical friend whether they should buy a laptop or a desktop. And the answer would be “well, how much money do you have and what do you want to do with it?” Laptops were portable but had smaller screens, less power and were more expensive. Which trade-off depended on how you planned to use it.
Over time that break point shifted: laptops got less expensive and much more powerful - today there are very few tasks that need the power a desktop can give, but the screen size point remains (though of course external screens are cheap). And so laptops grew to roughly half the PC market by volume. The desktop market didn’t go away - mostly for screen size or cost reasons (if you’re outfitting an office of 10k people, none of whom take their work out of the office, why buy laptops?)
Much the same analysis applies to tablets today - "what are you going to do with it?" Are you going to do sophisticated, complex, multi-app computing? Lots of keyboard work and detailed manipulation that a mouse is better for? Apps that are only ON a PC? Then get one (whether desktop or laptop). Mostly web, email, games, video, social networks and you’re walking around all the time? A tablet might suit you very well. You probably have a PC too - there’s very little actual substitution right now, but there is an impact on the PC replacement cycle (as well as expanding the pie massively, especially in emerging markets, which is another conversation)....."
"....This brings us back to the mouse and keyboard that you ‘need for real work’, as the phrase goes. Yes, you really do need them to make a financial model. And you need them to make an operating metrics summary - in Excel and Powerpoint. But is that, really, what you need to be doing to achieve the underlying business purpose? Very few people's job is literally 'make Excel files'. And what if you spend the other 90% of your time on the road meeting clients and replying to emails? Do you need a laptop, or a tablet? Do you need a tablet as well as a smartphone? Or a laptop, or phablet? Or both?
Well, what do you want do with it? it’s all just glass - the only real different is the size and the input mechanism that suits your task."
I'm just back from a trip where I've almost completely tablet only for usage. I was originally planning on purchasing a new MacBook Air upon return but I'm wondering more and more whether I can actually survive on just a tablet. It's definitely powerful enough, the battery trumps a laptop (although the new Air is comparable) but the multi-tasking is what let's it down. Moving content between apps is a real chore, unless direct integration is built in (which is no guarantee). But the size and portability of the tablet are a huge sell - I consistently bring the iPad mini retina regularly to locations a laptop would have felt like hassle.
Looking with a workers perspective, not just a casual consumer, my own experiences are similar to the one below on the WSJ:
"My iPad is with me every night when I doze off to sleep, it entertains me on long flights and keeps me informed during my morning commute. But when it comes to real work, the tablet fails me.
If I'm writing long emails or working on office documents, I want a larger screen, a roomy keyboard and the ability to easily juggle programs. The iPad doesn't cut it, though there are tablets that are literally standing up to the productivity challenge."
I wouldn't completely disagree with the final paragraph but it's a lot better in my experience than is discussed.
There is one important difference however. The Apple ecosystem keeps me using an iPad. Having my photos sync across all my devices without any work on my part is a hands-down winner. Using iMessage and iWork gives me the same experience.
What about you?
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