Archives For tablet

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The funny thing about data is, there are often multiple ways to slice it.  And there is never enough of it.  Take the recent (and not-so-recent, if you wish) reports on the death of the PC, for example.  Gartner and IDC produced data about how mobile shipments are taking over and PC shipments are crumbling.  As with anything, to look at the other side of the coin, there have been a lot of posts about how the PC is hardly dying, forget being dead!  Particularly this one on TechCrunch that I really enjoyed reading!

What’s all this data telling us? Is the PC dead? Could it be dying soon? Are the tablet and smartphone owners throwing out their PCs or donating them to charity?  For all practical purposes, I’m using the term “PC” here to denote all desktop and laptop computers, including the Macs – I know, that’s outrageous, but, I’m sticking to it (and yes, I love my Mac, but am not ashamed to call it a PC in the context of this post!).

So, what’s really wrong with this data that is causing all kinds of frantic debates about whether the PC is dead or alive?  For one, it is incomplete.  First, let’s see what it clearly suggests:

  • That mobile shipments are trending towards overtaking PC shipments
  • People are spending increasing amounts of time on mobile devices

Heck, we didn’t need a Gartner or IDC report to actually know that, did we?! Look around in restaurants, trains, subways, streets, malls, wherever and you know this is true – we didn’t think all these people sat around at their PCs to spend that time browsing instead of going about their lives before the era of smartphones, I hope!

So, what is really the problem here? In all the hype to beat up the Microsofts, the Dells and the Intels, we are really not delving deep enough into the data here. Let’s take a closer look at the same two aspects I wrote above:

  • Shipments are trending in favor of mobile devices.  Could it be that more people are becoming owners of multiple devices? Or that the lifecycle of PCs are getting longer, as the TC post suggests? 
  • Percentage of time spent (or advertising revenue or sales, whatever) on mobile devices is up drastically.  Of course, going from nothing to some number is an infinite increase in terms of percentages!  Mobile devices, especially tablets, are still in the early years of adoption!

This data, by itself, certainly says nothing about whether the PC is dead.  The people that are writing about these massive numbers on usage, advertising revenue, internet traffic, etc. coming from PCs are all still right.  But, the really important thing here are a few subtle points that require a more nuanced look at the data.

  • Tablets and smartphones are increasingly becoming the consumption devices. They are easy to use, always-on and don’t require a drastic situation change to interact with. We don’t have to sit up in bed, we can just keep lying down and let’s admit, we love technology that allows us to be lazy!
  • The use of a PC for leisure is declining. For the same reasons as above, we don’t need to be sitting straight to be leisurely connected to the Internet.  And we can do it while watching TV.  Two things we love doing, we can now do together, all while feeling restful! Data suggests people are doing exactly this!
  • Enterprise content creation is still going strong on the PC. Okay, I’m an early adopter, but I don’t expect to be creating presentations and documents on my phone just yet. I’ve tried some of this and it is fairly painful. This needs more innovation and more importantly, we geeks are just not ready yet!

But the reality is that more innovation on the mobile for the content creation aspects will come and come fast.  We are not there yet, but it will come sooner than we think.  Perhaps not for the enterprise use cases yet, but for the leisure, user generated content, it will.  While the PC isn’t dead, it is definitely doing less than it used to.  And it is going to do lesser and lesser for more and more segments of people in the coming years.

It’s just aging, not dying yet!

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I reset my iPad to factory settings, wiping all of my content from it and set it up for my mom this past weekend.  This has been coming for some time now, but I finally came to terms with it – I had no use for the iPad any more!  The truth is that I haven’t used it in a while – months now, really.  When I first bought the iPad, I was thrilled.  I used it a lot – the key role it played for me was that of an electronic note taker.  I transitioned from having notebooks and pieces of paper I couldn’t find or decipher to having electronic copies of all the notes of any significance.  Other apps and uses of the iPad were secondary.  The portability and ease of notetaking alone were worth it for me.

And then I found predictive keyboards on Android, such as Swiftkey.  As the algorithms trained on more of my data, I got to a point that I could type very well and fast on my Android phone.  That is when the I really stopped ‘needing’ the iPad.  As of now, I can type better on my phone than I can on my iPad.  Typing on the iPad even annoys me.  Apple’s keyboards are not as predictive yet and the auto-corrections are also somewhat lame.  And given the restrictions that exist on iOS ecosystem, there aren’t third party predictive keyboards that can be used.  It is a reminder of how not all of the innovation can come from a single company – not even Apple!

Granted, the bigger screen is useful for watching videos and makes for a better working environment.  However, between my Macbook Air and my smartphone, I have it covered.  When I am really working for an extended period of time, I’d much rather have my laptop anyway.  And, with what the Macbook Air weighs, anywhere I can take my iPad, I can take my Air too – so, it is really about all the other hours of the day when I need ultra light portable devices.  For those hours, I find the iPads too big – I want something that fits in my pocket and allows me to be handsfree when I need to be!

The iPad seemingly served a need when I found typing on the phone to be a pain.  But not now.  The more time I spend with my phone, the more I customize it.  My apps know me better.  Pulse on my phone is actually more relevant to me than Pulse on my iPad.  I know I can use the crazy concept of “identity” and actually log in to Pulse (gasp!) to have more or less the same experience across all my devices – but, I hate that!  When my devices can figure out who I am based on all the things I do anyway, I’m in.  Until then, I will customize the device I use the most.  For the videos I watch and all the content I consume, the tradeoff of the form factor is worth it.

Convenience wins, until there is something I do a lot that is painful to do.  As of now, I do a lot on my Android phone and I love it!  I will wait for the day when the world around us become peripherals to create bigger displays dynamically as I need them.  As much as I feel sad parting with my iPad, the time has come – it’s yours, mom!