Thoughts on the Pad

A few weeks ago I was able to experience the iPad for the first time. It’s an impressive device overall, although I refuse to be an early adopter. Think, though, for a moment about what you might think of this device, its OS and user interface if you weren’t already used to the iPhone. This device would blow your mind. Apple has certainly set the bar high the past few years. And, have you paid attention to the numbers released from Apple last week? The number of iPhones sold in Q1 2010 is amazing when compared to same quarter sales a year ago. Think what the iPhone would do if it was sold across all four networks similar to RIM’s BlackBerry. The phone would dominate, but largely because of the iTunes infrastructure and its ability to distribute content, which Apple has learned to do very well. Everyone else is still trying to catch up.

Which leads me to this: the future of computing is mobile computing. There is no doubt about it. Apple wasn’t the first to come out with a tablet computer, but there wasn’t a significant demand or market for one until the iPad came out a few weeks ago. Now there is a rush for companies to match. Palm, once a leader in mobile devices, is now all but dead with no buyers in sight. Microsoft is trying, but is still playing catch up despite its resources and is straying from its core business which is about to be lost to cloud computing. Hardware companies such as HP and Dell are trying to compete in the new tablet space as well, but their own proprietary OS will never get them too far.

Realistically, the one company positioned to battle Apple on the tablet computing front will be Google. Besides Apple, Android delivers content to its users the best and will continue to get better. And unlike Apple, Google won’t have to worry about creating the hardware as well – that will be outsourced to companies such as HTC or Asus. Google can focus its efforts solely on the OS and will, in my mind, come out on top. Apple has no doubt been revolutionary for the industry, but I will not be buying an iPad. I will be buying a competitor in a few years (it will take that long to convince my wife I need one of these) that runs Android. And I won’t look back.

For the next few years these tablets will remain somewhat of a status item, but by 2015 they will be ubiquitous – it will be the same story as the smartphone market. For those that have them, these devices will know our preferences and will anticipate what we want or think before we know we want or think it. All of my social interaction or communication will to some degree occur through my tablet and increasingly business will be transacted through the device. Cable television and timed programming will become obsolete as wireless streaming video becomes more efficient. Almost everyone will be connected all the time with whoever they choose and the world will consume information in real time like the world has never seen. Whether this is good for us or not is not up to me to say, but this is where we are inevitably heading. As convenient as this might be, the result could be a world that is a much lonelier, anxious and self-absorbed place.

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