Tablet Computer Death
Yes, I believe tablet computer death is being foreshadowed in the not-to-distant future! How can I make such a statement when iPads are selling across the globe in the tens of millions, and Android tablets are likely to take over iPads in the not-so-distant future? Well, it comes down to the evolution of technology.
Will we have tablet-like computers, yes, absolutely. However, the "dumb" tablets of today will cease to exist as we currently know them. The price of an iPad is seriously absurd when you compare capability to a similarly, or lower priced laptop. You're really paying for the form factor and Apple name. These are simply facts. No one will debate that you can buy a much more powerful and capable laptop or super portable ultrabook. Also, you can buy a similar or more feature rich Android tablet for the same or lower price. Anyway, the price of the iPad compared to other devices isn't really the point here.
In today's world of computing we have two generally accepted categories. One is that of productivity or content creation, which is universally accepted as requiring a desktop computer, or laptop (including ultrabooks for the most part). The second is for content consumption, which includes activities like reading books, watching movies, checking email (with brief replies), checking Facebook status, viewing photos, etc. These latter activities are what have driven the popularity of tablets. In their current format, tablets have vibrant screens, are light, and have great battery life.So Why Is The Tablet Dead?
So why is the tablet as we know it as good as dead? Ok, maybe the title is a little alarmist; that's not the objective. But rather, the tablet form factor will live on much as it is today, however, the expectation of performance and features will change significantly. The bottom line is that as micro-technology continues to improve, and manufacturing prices continue to decline, we will no longer be required to make trade-offs between portability and performance. In other words, why carry around a tablet (as we know it today), along with a phone or phablet, AND a laptop; it's absurd!
We'll be able to have a tablet form factor that is just as powerful as the most power laptops of today, including respectable battery life (which we're already seeing in ultrabooks), and a keyboard. The keyboard can be detachable (like the Windows Surface tablet) or simply function as a built-in cover as many third-party providers already offer. I continuously hear people say that they don't need that kind of power and productivity, however, why not have it on hand? I don't know
about you, but even casual content consumption typically results in an email, comment post, or other such touch typing friendly activity at the very least.
Sure, we make these usage distinctions today. However, I would argue that we do it out of necessity, not out of a actual desire to separate content creation and productivity from content consumption. If you could have a tablet format with all of its benefits, including the power of your home computer or laptop, coupled with a quality keyboard that adds minimal size and weight, all for the same price of an average laptop (ex. $500-$700), would you not want one?What Device Combination Would You Choose?
Another dimension that further supports this usage model is the increasing capability and screen size of smartphones. If all you want to do is read a book, a 4" smartphone, or 5" phablet should be more than sufficient to take on that role. Furthermore, if battery life is good enough, and when voice and data multitasking become ubiquitous across wireless carriers, you could easily use a tablet form factor as your phone; which could drive the de-evolution of phones to be much smaller than today's ever growing smartphone size.
Our device decisions will come full circle back to our personal needs, taste, and lifestyle. For example, I'll want a larger next gen tablet (i.e. fully functional as we've been discussing) with a 14" screen. I'll use it as my main computer, and being more portable, will enable me to use it for more casual "consumption-like" activities when desired. I'll also have a smartphone that can easily fit in my pocket (i.e. sub 5").
Others will opt for a smaller next gen tablet in the 7-10" range, and a smartphone in the 4" range. This type of user will likely opt for an additional desktop setup that includes a 20-30" screen and keyboard where the tablet (i.e. the brains of the computer) dock into the back of the screen. In other words, no matter what your configuration, a next gen tablet will ultimately replace the need for a second computer, whether than be a laptop or desktop.
To the mainstream user to feel comfortable with this type of setup, durability, theft prevention, and data backup and security will become even more important elements. Cloud computing and storage will likely facilitate this move, as computers themselves will more and more become processing/display shells, with less concern around data security and loss at the local computer level. In other words, the evolution of the Cloud will need to occur, and Internet access will need to essentially be ubiquitous, meaning always on/available.