Saturday, February 11, 2012

What good is a tablet for?

When the purists write an account of how words in the English language have got completely new implications in the 21st century, the word "tablet" will have its own page (which, who knows, might be read on a tablet!)

Even a year ago, a "tablet" would more or less imply that small little pill that you took with a glass of water to get rid of the headache or whatever illness plagued you. Personally, it was something I really abhorred for a little over 18 years. It was coincidental that I gulped my first tablet (pill) around the time I turned an adult. But for the last one year or so, ever since there was news in the air about Mr Jobs bringing the iPad into this world, the word tablet has made children out of adults; adults who want a tablet as their latest toy. A toy they can show around to their other (adult) friends to convince one and all of their status as the uber cool gift of life on this planet. Or you can showcase it to random (but obviously amazingly hot and beautiful) girls in a mall where they would fight each other to lay their hands on you and your lovely tablet.

However, while a certain part of my brain and heart wants to have a tab, the remaining parts make me wonder of a slightly innocuous question:

What will I do with a tablet?
OK, so I can go to Facebook, watch and share photographs, movies, check and send emails and do some other general stuff. Yes, that's great BUT, I can do all of that on my laptop or the even cheaper and sleeker netbooks na?

Oh, you can do all that on the tablet with touch functionality bro!

But, I can do the same thing on my smartphone also na?

Oh wait, there is the lovely ebook reader application that one can use to read books!

But I can do that on Kindle and that too at a MUCH lesser price. Hmmm... so what do I use the tablet for then?

Well, I have read somewhere that Mercedes was planning to use the iPad as a device that their salesmen would use to showcase the features of the cars to prospective customers. Ok, sounds good - so tablet can be used to showcase luxury products features. Limited use but adds to the overall high value for the product. The folks at Mercedes must be really smart to do this because I know for a fact that at least good old Hyundai could not really understand what to do with it, so they have decided to give away free iPads with one of its high end SUVs; in a way they are according higher respect for their customer that at least the guy who spends so much money to buy our SUV will have brains enough to make some use of this iPad/tab.

Ok, so a couple of automative related uses for iPad. Apple's website shows what all you can do with the iPad. Samsung tab videos also show what you can do with the tab, but, of course, Apple's ads are iconic.

If this was not enough to confuse you, Dell has introduced a 5" Dell Streak. Now 5" may sound so much better than a 3.5" phone screen but I have actually taken one in my hand and if you want to use it as a phone it is a tad too big and if you want to use it as a e-book reader, it is a tad too small. So, in short, it's not a tab but a tad too unfit for what it should do. Some of my friends have pointed to me that the iPhone is also pretty big and that is why Dell Streak5 might just work but I still don't think this is a workable option. What I understand from my marketing and strategy classes is that Dell is trying to be a differentiator by trying to fill a niche area, a sort of a blue ocean - an uncharted territory, for the uninitiated.

But at the moment, for me, it seems this uncharted territory may remain just that. There are reports on the internet that there are 7 and 10 inch Streaks coming in future - those will at least take it from a position of my abnormal confusion to a state where I am normally confused. Even Steve Jobs feels some of the tabs in the market are too small - so I have a feeling I am half right! Meanwhile, here is Dell's TV ad: do check the girl holding it at 13 secs and at 25secs and at 42 and at 48 and you will understand what I mean when I say it's a tad big for carrying around like a phone (interestingly, they don't show people holding it as a phone at all and just when they are about to actually use it as a phone, the lovely ad ends!)

OK, so it seems (at least to me) that there aren't very many real uses for an iPad (that I cant do with my smartphone or laptop) but apparently 7.5 million people who have bought iPads and tablets over the last one year don't think so. If you are one of those who had the money to buy one and brains to actually use it for some good purpose, please let me know why you bought the tab/iPad. Going by the fact that I don't have the money to buy an iPad now kind of tells you I am not the brightest folks anyway :D

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