If you have ever tried to buy a tablet PC in the past, you will know that the choices have been very limited (and costly). Even today if you search amazon for tablet PC, you would be presented with few viable choices that will make you switch to a tablet PC or get one as an additional computer. If you explore the history of tablet PC (for e.g. at Wikipedia), you will find out that the first commercialized tablet PC was released by IBM in 1993 and the next big step in its evolution was in 2001 when Microsoft released the touch screen Tablet PC run by Windows. And since then, nothing. Yes, no notable innovation in this field (mainstream table PC) for last 9 years and Microsoft has not helped with its unimaginative software capabilities for the tablet PC.
However, if you have been following the International CES this year, where companies introduced the hot products for the next year, the big news has been the Tablet PC. There have been 9 different tablet products from 9 different companies with an evolutionary changed design – ranging from the sleek tablet PC (sans keyboard) from HP to the hybrid 2 in 1 netbook-tablet from Lenovo (Read PCWorld’s article on the same here). And of course Microsoft’s rumored Courier device is also in the queue. So what’s the driver behind so much innovation this year? Many people argue that the advanced (& cheap) hardware that’s available now has enabled this innovation in the tablet segment. Well, there hasn’t been a huge drop in prices or a huge leap in hardware capabilities in the last 2 years. So what’s the real driver? The answer is – “Apple”.
Apple fundamentally revolutionized the mp3 player market with their ipod line of products and then did the same to the smart phones by introducing iphone. It literally created , revived or expanded those segments. With that track record, Apple’s foray into the Tablet PC is what has made this the hot product of 2010 & beyond. With the buzz, interest & the demand that will be created by Apple’s Tablet device, other manufacturers have either been pre-empted in their effort to create their own tablet PC device or have been forced to not ignore this opportunity.
So, Apple has changed the Table PC market and the irony is that they have not even released their tablet yet 🙂 or even admitted to having working on it at all !!!. Now all we need to do is wait till 27th Jan for Apple’s event where Steve Jobs will (hopefully) change our world (again).