Tablets are becoming commodities fast. This makes the rapid drop in laptop prices over the last five years look like glacial erosion. These multi-user windows to the web are currently nothing more than a display, touchscreen, radio, processor, and storage. With the choice of experiences dwindling to just Android or iOS (both Playbook and TouchPad failed to delight the market) the differentiation opportunities are draining away just as fast.
In a mad dash to introduce their own tablets to the iPad-crazed market, mobile phone and PC OEMs alike have stumbled over each other in what they believed was a race of speeds and feeds. When will they learn?
Apple wins by presenting a novel experience built on solid technology (not always rock-solid, but good enough to enable the desired experience). Motorola committed the cardinal sin of competing with Apple when they launched the Xoom. Not only did they launch with a higher price than the iPad (maybe if we price it as a luxur
y, people will believe it’s better), their marketing only promised speeds and feeds.
Tablets are not about speed. They are about casual time, surfing, reading, watching an episode of Glee, or challenging yourself to a game (or ten) of Fruit Ninja. These are not high-powered (mental or electrical) activities. Angry Birds is not about speed, it’s about stickiness. If the birds were in 3D with 5.1 surround sound, it wouldn’t change the stickiness of the experience.
While most everyone is missing this, HP is trying. Phil Mckinney has some marvelous views of a future where we all can enjoy HP products, but the TouchPad was not the right stepping stone to the future people expected. OEMs must (1) paint a compelling view of the everyday consumer in a starring role AND (2) provide the tools to achieve, with ease, part of that future today.
Tablets are the new cupholder of this millennium–you must have one. And it’s okay if it sucks… as long as it holds a slurpee.