Monday, March 19, 2012

Tablets Replacing Traditional Computers

Not since they were carried down the side of a mountain in the Middle East have “tablets” been so popular. The tablets that Moses used had a very a small amount of data storage capacity, but you couldn’t beat the reliability of the memory and battery life was awesome. Now more than 2000 years later, tablets like the Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy or Amazon’s Fire have taken over the portable computing landscape.

A tablet computer is a mobile device that is larger than a standard cell phone. Most have touch screens rather than a physical keyboard. Most can do just about any task that can be done on a lap top or desk top computer. They connect to the Internet via either a wifi connection or mobile phone network or both. By far the most popular is the iPad, first released in 2010 and now in its third iteration with the announcement of the iPad3.

Apple was not the first to enter the market as Microsoft and others tried unsuccessfully to bring tablets to consumers in the late 1990s. A combination of the nascent technology of the times and a clunky user interface, some using a stylus rather than touch control, made the early offerings a marketing and sales flop.

According to industry sources, Apple is on track to sell 100 million iPads worldwide this year. Microsoft, with its new Windows 8 operating system, also has the tablet market in their sights.

So what is the big deal? Why are tablets all the rage? Will they soon make a standard desktop or lap top computer seem as quaint as a dial telephone or record player?

Tablets and advanced smart phones have several benefits for those working and living in our mobile society that has a ravenous desire for information and immediate gratification. They are portable and, since they connect wirelessly to the Internet, can access vast stores of information without having to keep that information within the device. Increasingly, users are able to verbally make requests rather than type in commands. In a society that blurs office and home, tablets offer the capacity to do work and keep up with family and friends at the same time.

According to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, his company has sold a total of 315 million iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches, with a full 62 million devices being sold in the last 4 months of 2011. It is clear that this tablet phenomenon is much more than a “pet rock” anomaly. Tablets will give us the ability to have at our fingertips instant access to information and communication with family at home or colleagues on the other side of the world. It is exciting to look ahead considering how quickly the capacities of these tablet devices have expanded in only a few years. Stay tuned. Or should I say, stay connected.

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