Slates represent the future and initiate the departure from the standard PC and Laptop as the main ways we do our daily computing.
The first paradigm that is starting to be realized the last few years is the evolution of cloud computing, or being able to store files, documents, programs remotely instead of locally. Cloud Computing is the main draw on the last major computing shift in the form of Net books. Net books were meant to be more portable and accessible then laptops, and more economically affordable. With only 2 Gigs of RAM and a an average 100 Gig hard drive the net book class does not leave very much room to store applications, shareware, games and work essential programs.
Welcome to the realm of Cloud Computing, where utilizing Google Documents, Google Email, Maps, Spreadsheets, and many other programs are available online, and do not bear much weight on your system resources. We have seen numerous companies offer cloud storage to replace hard drive space and most takes that you commonly do on the computer are available on the cloud. Casual gaming is becoming more popular, with over 84 million Farmville members, most big budget games do not sell that many copies.
The Second major factor on why Slates will replace Laptop and Portable computers is the software. In the last six years we have seen very little new software released. Aside from Firefox, Chrome, Skype, and Google Desktop, very little new mainstream new software has been released. Store bought software and applications that come shrink wrapped are at an all time low.
Most people buy new software via Online Downloads, Movies are purchased and viewed online, online streaming of video and music, YouTube, the Apple App Store and many other Digital downloads are changing the way content providers deliver software to the end customer. This lowers the cost of the software to be delivered digitally, as there is less middle men involved. Providing content digitally is a way that independent developers can make a name for themselves and increase revenue, but delivering low cost, quality products that are most often impulse buys.
Slates will fundamentally alter the way data is stored, bought, and used in daily life. If you look at most business professionals or people whom our lives depend on, like Air Plane pilots. They carry a ton of maps, coordinates, manuals, flight times, schedules and all sorts of papers that clutter the cockpit. With a single slate, they can store everything in one small, portable package and it makes their lives easier.
With over 2 Million iPads presold within a week, there is an astounding amount of attention on this new device from Apple. With the established presence of the Apple Appstore, there are millions of apps, games and more available. There will certainly be no shortage of content available on this device, as well as new programs such as iWork or iBooks. Apple is making an attempt to leap to the forefront of a post PC era. Apples vision is a reflection of the times, movies portray technology that is touched, swiped, and interacted with.
Slates represent a new shift in computing, but not all companies are leaping into the slate market right away. Microsoft after an ill-fated Tablet PC in 2002 has stopped Microsoft from making great leaps into paradigms. They constantly release new software and making them updated for the times. They introduced “surface” which is a new touch screen technology that you see mainly on business tables and in other luxury brands, such as visitors centers and museums. Their latest offering Project Natal for the XBOX allows people to gesture, swipe, tap and interact with a nonexistent interface. People will be able to interact with a medium never before attempted, but often visually seen, in movies such as Tron, Avatar, and the fifth element. They are also working on a dual screen tablet interactive device called the Microsoft Courier, which is more of a work device and digital organizer then it is a pure Slate device.
The public at large is starting to accept touch screen interactive devices in their daily lives, with the first iteration of IPHONES, Black Berry Storms, and other Google Android driven smart phones that have eliminated physical keyboards and maintain a pure interactive approach to their media.
Since touch screen smart phones, portable music devices and other devices have been in the public consciousness for over five years, the extension of a bigger touch screen platform will not be rejected by the average person.
Slates could be very well the end of the modern computing era that we know. Not much has changed in PC architecture since the late 70’s with GUI devices with hardware that is expensive at the time, then gradually improves and lowers in cost every few months. The way we interact with computers has not changed in over fifty years. The seed is embedded into people’s minds, and most people reading this article would have used a touch screen device at some point or another.
Slates represent a more practical and pragmatic way to approach the way we interact with data, store it, and access it. With the rise and establishment of Cloud computing and instant digital offerings everything is more accessible now than ever before.
Apples success seems to be established in the present, and if pre-sales are any indication people will accept and buy this device in droves. Apple may dominant the slate industry for the next few years, although alternatives are looming on the horizon. Dell Slate, HP Slate, Notion Ink Adam, Neofonie WePad, JOOJOO and many other major players in the computing world are all offering Slates this year. Apple may have a large segment of the market, but they will not control the entire market.
Big companies and small ones alike, all have established partnerships and loyalty to a specific brand. Sony for example has business class and consumer products across a wide spectrum. From Computers, TV’s to Play Stations and E-Readers and other Media devices. World-wide is a large loyalty to an established player such as Sony. The Same can be said about Dell, HP and others. New Players to the game may not have an established track record with businesses but they initial device offerings cannot be immediately dismissed.
If you look at the Notion Ink Adam, all of its core specifics such as Processor, Storage, battery life are all superior to the iPad but will the public accept a product by a new company, even though its initial product may be superior to the current market dominant force? It remains to be seen.
I firmly believe that in the next two or three years people will not buy new computers or laptops but they will purchase Slates that offer more power, and more content.
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This has been a commentary on the Slate Industry, and represents both speculation and facts.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.