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Why Should We Suddenly Want Tablet Computers?

It's understandable that folks went a little nuts over the Apple iPad. Apple has, after all, brought us the iPod, the iPhone and the iPod Touch over the last decade or so, and those are mostly pretty cool (and very successful) gadgets.

But besides the fact that the iPad looks ridiculous, it has also started a flood of articles about how tablet computing is going to take over the world. We don't get why that would happen. But first, the hype. Apparently, the iPad has sparked a tablet "war" (beware: a video featuring an Australian accent plays in this link), with every big vendor under the sun, including Microsoft developing its weapon for battle.

None other than the venerable Atlantic has more or less predicted the death of the book as collateral damage in the tablet war. But haven't tablets been around forever, with very little pick-up from users? And would anybody really spend $500 or more for a fancier way to read? We already have smart phones, netbooks, laptops, music players. Where does this tablet thing fit in? The ones we've seen aren't phones and don't even have real keyboards. What's the point?

Apparently, one would-be tablet producer's answer to that question is (paraphrasing here), "Well, uh, actually...I don't know." No, really! Check this out from Australia's Brisbane Times:

"Ruslan [Kogan, an Australian entrepreneur and tablet-producer wannabe] admits he doesn't know how people will use it or whether he'd actually use one himself.

'It's one of those devices where I'm wondering what people will do with it...This is one Kogan product that I don't know if I'd actually use it for myself, because I've got an Android phone and a Kogan netbook and they pretty much fulfill all my mobile needs...' Kogan says."

But Kogan goes on to say that he's just sure that there's demand for a tablet. After all (our words now, not his), Apple's making one, right? If Apple's making one, it must be a good idea. Right? Oh, yes, by all means, let's bring to market a fairly expensive gadget that even its potential manufacturers don't see an immediate, overly compelling use for.  That makes a lot of sense. [/sarcasm]

Do you want a tablet computer? Why? Sound off at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/10/2010 at 1:22 PM


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