Friday, 3 May 2013

And the prize for head in the sand goes to...

This won't replace an iPad
The whole history of computing is littered with people making wildly inaccurate predictions. Famously Thomas J. Watson, Mr Big in the early days of IBM, believed that there was only a worldwide market for about five electronic computers. If we ignore things like washing machines, but include smartphones, games consoles and PVRs, we must have around three times that in our house alone.

Even so, you would think by now that some computing bigwigs would learn their lesson. But no. The head honcho of struggling mobile manufacturer BlackBerry, Thorsten Heins has announced that tablet computers - iPads and Kindle Fires and all those other Android equivalents - will be dead within five years. A flash in the pan. A short term craze that will go the way of hula hoops (the toy, not the crisp) and clackers.

Apparently Thorsten said 'In five years, I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore... Maybe a big screen in your workplace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model.'

No, Mr Thorsten, BlackBerry tablets - the much derided 'Playbooks' - were not a good business model, because they weren't very good tablets. But to expand your experience to the whole market is ridiculous.  Thorsten sees mobiles like their latest, the BlackBerry Z10 (which is basically BlackBerry just about  catching up with Apple and Samsung) replacing tablets. I'm sorry, they won't.

The fact is I have a very nice smartphone, and I can read books and PDFs on it, or do spreadsheets or Word documents - and I do when all else fails. But I don't most of the time, because it's so much more practical and productive on my iPad. I can see it's quite possible that laptops will only still exist for power users as they are replaced by tablets for most people - but not tablets replaced by phones. I have now abandoned laptops and only use my iPad for mobile computing - and I know increasing numbers of people who do this.

Tablets are taking the domestic market by storm, but inevitably they are slower to penetrate in business, BlackBerry's heartland, because business IT departments are (often sensibly) very conservative, but they will come. Of course there will always be power business users who do serious graphics, or write all day who will want a 'real' computer, but I can see an awful lot of business computing eventually done on next generation tablets.

I don't know if there is a head-in-the-sand award for business, but if there is, I know who should get it.

No comments:

Post a Comment