Monday, March 21, 2011

Your tablet will never be a laptop

I am on record as one of the first who said that the tablets were the future of computing for the masses. I stand by my assessment of a year ago. I am even more convinced that the tablet will replace the home desktop computer for the majority of the population and, for that matter, laptops.

However, I am very surprised when I hear people saying that the tablets will replace laptops for people who use them to work. The tablets are not good to do work, period. Any work.

They are not made for it. They are made for entertainment, with some light work in between. They have a precise scope in the workplace: take notes and give presentations. And do some communication. The rest of their life is on the couch at home or on the plane.

I feel it is insane to really believe you are going to use your tablet for heavy document writing, or to work on a spreadsheet. The UI interface is not conducive of high productivity. Your hands are always in the middle, you cover your visual interaction with your hands. It will always yield to low productivity results.

Some people say "simple, just get a wireless keyboard". Wrong. The OS for a touch device will always force you to touch the screen. You will end up putting your hands on the screen way too many times, which will lead to low productivity.

Some people say "then use a keyboard and a mouse". Wrong. The problem is that the OS for a touch device is built for touch. If you try to overlap a mouse interaction on it, you will end up with a multi-modal device, one that is the classical hybrid that sucks on both. iOS works because you interact with touch. Some of its paradigms will be ported to Mac OS, but Mac OS will always be a mouse-centric OS, while iOS will always be a touch-centric device. They will not fully merge, and for a reason. Look at the success of the Microsoft strategy around one OS for everything...

I am not the only one saying this. Steve Jobs is. Look at the presentation of iPad 2. Where is iWork in the presentation? Where is the innovation around Pages, Numbers and Keynote for iPad? They were not there. What Steve presented is iMovie (cool) and GarageBand (very cool). No productivity tools. He knows, as we do, that the iPad is not going to replace your work laptop. For entertainment, it will.

There is no swiss-knife when it comes to devices. In your pocket, you keep a smartphone. In your bag to go back and forth to work, a laptop (which does perfectly replace your desktop, BTW, just add a keyboard, mouse and monitor). On your couch, and in meetings, a tablet.

You just need to makes sure you keep all of them synchronized. But for that, there are solutions.