Apple isn’t the only player entering the tablet arena. Already Dell and HP are working on tablets, and rumor is that Microsoft could be developing its own – although it is odd that at CES Microsoft showed off an HP version.
One rumor circulating online is that Symbian could be used as a new open source operating system for tablets, and of course it isn’t hard to see that Google’s Android OS could also be a likely candidate for tablet devices as well – or possibly even the Google Chrome OS. And these open source operating systems could do in the tablet market what open source hasn’t been able to do well in the desktop space, and that is take a dominant position.
The question is whether tablets will be used more like desktop/laptop PCs, or if these devices will be used more like mobile phones? The answer is that a tablet could be seen exactly as a middle ground between the two. Yet, given the limitations, it could benefit from a cloud or Internet-based OS, such as the Google Chrome OS. There is even a rumor circulating that Google might be developing its own tablet to boot!
So does this mean that the PC is dead? As a journalist who has covered the games market for years, I’ve personally heard the phrase “the PC is dead” far too many times to count. Most of the time it meant gaming on the PC, as the consoles systems took away the market. To some extent this is true, but as each console generation had gotten a bit long in the tooth and wasn’t quite so innovative any longer, the PC made a comeback. But to say that the PC is dead because of tablets is a serious misunderstanding of the market.
Tablets may take off, but only with some users. Tablets won’t replace desktop PCs anymore than smartphones have replaced desktop PCs. But these devices complement one another. No one is going to do a full day’s worth of work with a smartphone, at least not on a regular basis. While a smartphone is great for checking e-mail, sending messages, reviewing documents and even working on a file or two, it isn’t a replace for a laptop.
So why would a tablet, a device that lacks a keyboard be a PC killer? Even if tablets catch on, and even if a cottage industry materializes, people aren’t going to want to use a tablet as a desktop replacement – at least not on a daily basis. Tablets could actually tap into the smartphone market, for those road warriors and power users who find that they need something more than a handset, something less than a laptop.
And maybe that’s something to consider too. Is a tablet really anything more than a lesser laptop? To be, it is more than a handset, but the “less” is still part of the equation. And given the price, this “less” doesn’t add to enough of “more.”