On Tuesday October 23rd Apple introduced its smaller tablet called the iPad Mini. Later this week Microsoft is launching its new tablet called the Microsoft Surface. It will run on software called RT (not the forthcoming Windows 8) at first but eventually I believe it will be moved over to Windows 8 as well. I think it’s no small coincidence that both of these new products are being introduced to the world in the same week.
Why do I wonder if I will ever buy another laptop again? The statistics only begin to tell the story. Reports of declining computer shipments (both desktop and laptop) already point in the direction of the demise of ‘traditional’ computers. A tablet with a completely virtual keyboard (when oh when?!) with full wireless, wi-fi AND cloud storage for $50 will be the future (in fact there have been some futurists that predict the Google Nexus will be $49 as soon as next year). The integration of voice-recognition technology improving on the likes of Siri or Google Voice will make tablet ‘computing’ (when will we stop calling it ‘computing’? – and what will it be called if not computing?), an even better experience than could have been imagined ten years ago.
David Pogue’s column in today’s New York Times http://nyti.ms/WIB7IY offers an even-handed review of the forthcoming Microsoft Surface. I agree with Mr. Pogue that it is very odd that the biggest problem with the Surface is the software integration itself. Microsoft offering below par software is unheard of but that seems to be the consensus with regard to the Surface. It will get better fast and the release has as much to do with being out a shade earlier than Apple’s new iPad Mini than anything else. I do feel that the Surface’s inability to connect to the internet via cellular networks (like the Amazon Kindle) is a big detraction.
Think about things not five years from now but three years from now. Cloud storage of documents and applications will be much more acceptable, Tablets will have matured beyond where they are today, portability will continue to be more important (who wants to carry around a 5 pound laptop brick?) and hopefully the ability of all tablets to connect to the internet will go beyond wi-fi access. That is to say that cellular connection ability will have to be part of all tablets until wi-fi is ubiquitous and that future still seems to be more than a few years away.
I expect that I will be able to hold out from buying a new laptop. At present I am using a laptop that is indeed more like a brick – heavy, limited and what I really use it for is to connect to the internet and for remote log-ins. The new tablets can do all that and much more. The typing thing is still critical to me but I know the options improve every day.
How about you – are you done with laptops forevermore?
You are right! I definitely use my laptop much less these days. However, some of the functionality of the ipad etc is a bit limited compared to what can be done with the lap top. It is possibly a result of my limitations rather than the device, however, I still like some of the traditional features of the ol’bird! Does that make me archaic?
Thanks for the comment David and I do not feel that liking some of the features of laptops makes anyone archaic. There are still some leaps and bounds to be had in improving the tablet experience. And as I noted I myself am still using a laptop and am thinking about a new machine. Holding out a bit longer may make a transition to a tablet that much easier.
I can’t see getting rid of my desktop, though. For a while it looked as if laptops might replace desktops. Perhaps it’s really because I actually still do “computing”; any kind of data or text entry on a tablet is really painful. That “full virtual keyboard” is going to be key, and I don’t know if it’s possible. I did buy a keyboard for my iPad. Too bad the combination is about as big and heavy as a laptop.
Thanks for the interesting perspective Bill. Because of your need for actual computing – increasingly a rarity these days, tablets are still far from being acceptable for your needs – and may not ever be ideal for those needs. I also agree that a big heavy keyboard plus a tablet really does not make it any more portable than a lightweight laptop. Virtual keyboards cannot happen soon enough!
I note that my children (young adults?) rarely, if ever and that is only for school work, use desktops / laptops. Even the tablets get left behind, but never the smart phones. Sooner or later I fully expect the smart phone (w/virtual keyboard?) will cannibalize the tablets as well, probably within your 5 year time frame.
You see things much the way I do Tom, and I think it’s happening faster than people realize. Portability is everything. Thanks.