In his Tech Sanity Check Blog post, Jason Hiner uses studies by Barclays and Gartner as a basis for his prediction that 2011 tablet PC sales will reduce sales of Intel and Microsoft Windows-based personal computers. The Barclays study suggests that, rather than Tablets supplementing keyboard-equipped PCs, they will actually supplant them. Sales of Windows-based keyboard PCs will be reduced, and they will be replaced by the Apple iPad and its ilk.
While I agree there are going to be millions of Apple iPads and competitor products that follow in its wake sold in 2011, I do not believe that really means users and the information technology professionals who support them are giving up their keyboards?
OK, I admit I have a bias here. I have used the Apple iPad and I really don't understand what the appeal is. It does have a nice screen, but so does my notebook. It can play videos and music, but so does my notebook. I can check my stock portfolio, baseball box scores, and e-mail with a tablet, but I can do that already with my notebook. Tablets PCs don't do anything I cannot already do.
On the other hand, I have a keyboard on my notebook PC, which is vital to all my interactions — tablets have clunky simulated keyboards that allow only the basic two-finger typing I stopped using way back in high school. With all due respect to Steve Jobs, there is nothing magical or revolutionary about the iPad or any Tablet.
I mainly use computers for two things — writing and playing computer games — both of which require a keyboard. And I don't mean games like Tetris, I mean serious hardcore games like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, and Civilization. Tablets like the Apple iPad just don't cut it.
So the poll question I have is: Will you or your users really give up the keyboard for a tablet PC? Can you or your users really conduct normal day-to-day business with a computing device that does not have a keyboard? Will the tablet move beyond the niche markets where it has been proven to be effective to a broader user base? And if that does occur, are you ready to support it?
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Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.