I don’t need to tell you that mob mentality is rife in online discussions and forums. The mob who think they know something about tablets are loudly calling for the removal of the Windows operating system from all Tablet PCs.
I am startled at how far this goes. It is rife through consumer oriented forums like www.gottabemobile.com where I have occasionally written some articles. I was even more surprised to read this perspective from a very well respected Tableteer Dr Conrad Blickenstorfer at Rugged PC Review. I understand Conrad’s experienced and long term view(and maybe a little well placed distaste for Microsoft) on this…
But, as far as mobs go, this ones wrong… As usual. That is because there are three major factors that are left out of the discussion of Windows and Tablet PCs.
1. Windows has a massive “app” base.
We’re talking about many millions of “apps”, not just a couple of hundred thousand with very limited use. These are fully functional rich environments from off the shelf applications to bespoke corporate and small business systems.
For the most simple example, just yesterday while I was on the road between Coffs Harbour and Grafton in NSW, I pulled out my windows 7 tablet PC, picked up 30mb of PDF files, zipped them into 3 separate packages and emailed them. A simple feat like that would be unfathomable on a consumer device, but I was able to do it on my convenient and powerful Motion J3500.
So we have a very rich environment in Windows that businesses like to take advantage of without having to rewrite all of the programs that they rely on. Granted, this will not be majorly exciting for consumers wanting to whittle their lives away playing pacifying games.
It is far more advantageous for businesses invested in Microsoft technology (95% of them) to make the rich environment of Windows more mobile than to switch to a new environment.
2. Rewriting the code is never a good idea – adapting it makes a lot of sense.
As a former software developer, I’m a big fan of Joel Spolsky’s number one rule: Never rewrite from scratch!
Rewriting windows from scratch for touch and tablets would fit right into Joel’s single worst strategic mistake category.
So Microsoft have taken the right path, and have done an excellent job adapting windows for Tablets effectively. Sure, there is still more that can be done and it no doubt will be done.
In future, Microsoft may adapt the Windows Phone 7 OS for consumer tablets too, but there will always be full Windows tablets. And it may surprise you how well Windows and Tablet PCs go together.
3. One device or platform will not fill everyone’s needs.
Much of the mob noise that is out there now is really focused around consumer tablets. Consumer tablets don’t fill the needs of most businesses very well at all – as evidenced by the hundreds of business people (short term iPad owners) that have contacted us this year looking to upgrade something that meets their needs.
On the one hand, if you wanted to show pictures to customers at a trade show or in a retail situation, the the iPad or an Android tablet would be perfect. Does the job well and cheaply.
On the other hand, if you’re looking to collect data outdoors like an insurance assessor, a park ranger, a geologist or a surveyor would, then consumer devices with glossy screens and limited “apps” and power would never do the job well.
The real future of Windows Tablet PCs
With the Windows 7 Tablet PC advancements and massive consumer focus on Tablets, the 2010 year broke all records for Tablet PCs. Our own Tablet PC sales covering all parts of Australia more than doubled. And that happened while the typical quality tablet sold for over AU$4,000. Our website visits went through the roof, and our humble YouTube channel attracted over half a million views around the world.
In 2011, you will see quality tablet devices featuring Windows 7 and the new Intel Atom Oaktrail processors opening up markets that could not afford to get in the game at $4k+. We expect to see these tablets landing in Australia for around AU$1,000.
Our prediction for Windows Tablet PCs for 2011:
- These devices will sell across the globe in the millions (It is estimated that there are already 5 million+ Windows tablets shipping each year)
- They are unlikely to cross over much with consumer slates
- They will eat into the market for data collection PDAs.
2010 was an exciting year for Tablet PCs in Australia, but if you are into Tablet PCs, 2011 is going to blow you away!