Apple released their earnings report last week and everyone was abuzz about the slowdown of iPad sales and the slowdown of tablet sales in general. Here, here and here. They are missing the point. The market is not going down it is shifting. Something else is happening.
What does this really mean? When we look at the tablet market we need to step back. We should take this as a whole instead of individual categories of products. Everyone wants to characterize each product as being a wearable, tablet, smartphone or computer. They are all computers. Plain and simple. Thinking about it that way it becomes clear what is happening. As the cost of processors goes down and the performance increases. Moore’s law and automation in action.
The result of this is more powerful computers at a cheap cheap price. I thought about this the other day when I got in the mail a coupon. Yep a coupon. It was for a tablet for just $19. The coupon was from Micro Center. They just opened a location near me in Brooklyn on 31st in Industry City. My first thought was that this machine will be crap. Oh yes crap, because what kind of machine can you get for 20$. I investigated further via the web. Like you do when you don’t believe something. I found out that the offer was real and the machine is good. I read the specs and saw dualcore with plenty of memory.
I took the walk to Micro Center. A huge geekie store with everything you possibly would need in tech with very friendly staff. When I got the machine I booted it up and it come up quick. The screen was eh, but it was ok for reading. I connected it to my wifi and when surfing the web it was fine. More than fine. It was fast. I was surprised. I thought the experience was going to be very much like an old Windows 95 machine as it struggles to open word. That did not happen. This is very usable.
I researched this machine further and found out that you can get it on Amazon for 50 bucks. Still not bad. So for $50 you get a machine that is small and has enough power to do email, surf the web and read ebooks on. Just $50. I am struggling with how cheap those capabilities are now.
So soon people will be giving away these machines like they give away USB Thumb Drives. Imagine you are at a conference and instead of getting a USB Thumb Drive from a vender you get a table. Or instead of you getting a program as a booklet you get a tablet that has the program. At this point you could use a tablet like it is paper. I imagine that there would be some disposal and recycling issues if that was to happen. People would then consider them like paper and throw them out. I can see them piling up like folders and papers on people’s desks.
The prices of the laptops are down too and are going to go down even further. The microcontrioller performance is increasing, so why call them a microcontroller any more. They are computers. What we are seeing here is that soon we will have incredible powerful devices with tons of memory that will be very very small. Imagine the uses for technology. Computers are not going to be limited by application and price. Gets me excited.
The small powerful computers are going to be everywhere and why not. It will cheap to collect information and cheap to store it.
I am not sure if we are just seeing a category disappear or shrink, but a category that is spread among other categories. Computers everywhere and at a cheap cheap price.
Photo credit: Stuck in Customs / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)