eReaders to Drive Tablet PC Further Into a Niche?

Interesting comments are being tossed around about what the Kindle DX, the Kindle 2, and other eReader devices mean for the tablet pc space.

Loren Heiney has an excellent write up about how this is the year of the slate form factor – think iPhone, Kindle, Kindle DX, etc. Notice he doesn’t say “Tablet PC”. He offers some additional thoughts about how the Tablet PC should no longer be considered the device for one to one computing in the K-12 education space. The eReader form factor, in his opinion, is a much more logical and cost effective device, especially in the lower grade levels. Battery life, power consumption, weight, etc make eReaders like the Kindle really standout for the problem school districts are trying to solve. As students get older, their needs change and computing requirements change, but will students naturally turn to the Tablet PC as their needs evolve? I’m not sure.

Being a Kindle 2 owner, I have seen my Tablet PC usage change. I’m more apt to take my Kindle places where I use to use my Tablet PC for similar tasks like reading. The Tablet PC’s real strength is in ink annotation, though. Once PDF ink annotating comes to the Kindle, though, it will become an even harder justification for folks to make between a dedicated device that excels at what it is designed for vs a do-it-all solution that costs a ton more.

It is interesting to see a space that Microsoft and the OEMs launched 6 years ago finally begin to take shape, but with others now beginning to take ownership of and take to mass market.  As eReaders and other slate form factors begin take hold, do you see the Tablet PC space being further marginalized or do you see this as an opportunity for the light to shine even brighter for the Tablet PC?

3 Comments

  1. feralboy

    05/06/2009 at 8:12 am

    Uh, how many people buy tablet PCs solely, or even primarily, as eBook readers? I love eBooks, and yeah, that’s one use, but a very minor one. If anything, the emergence of eBooks should INCREASE tablet PC sales if Microsoft decides to jump on the bandwagon and advertise that feature. Until eBook readers can replace laptops, i.e., running programs, etc., I don’t see how this argument makes any sense whatsoever. I assume there are people out there who bought tablets solely to use as eBook readers and not as computers, but their numbers are likely to be so small as to be insignificant.

    As for the education space, a Kindle certainly makes more sense as an eBook reader because it’s not a computer, has longer battery life, etc. But again, that assumes that educational facilities were buying tablet PCs solely as glorified text books. I don’t think that’s the case. In fact, over the years you’ve published a number of video stories about the use of tablet PCs in education and you know, I don’t remember them ever spotlighting them as eBook readers. A computer can read eBooks, that’s true, but a Kindle can’t run CAD software. They are very different beasts.

    Reply

  2. Sara Fauzia

    05/06/2009 at 2:31 pm

    I’m pretty afraid that they’re trying to convince me that my tablet is obsolete. I *like* my tablet being able to do everything; I don’t even want to have to carry a cell phone. Everything I need should be incorporated into my tablet, especially since it’s fitted for everything. If e-ink screens were available for tablets, that would improve them tremendously. We wouldn’t have to pay extra for screens with good out-door visibility. They’d be good for our eyes, which e-Readers tout as their sole strength. But can we stop the shift in the market? If there are no longer eBooks available to read on the computer, and everything is in the protected Kindle format, we won’t be able to read off our computers, period. There are only too many eBooks already that I’m seeing at the Kindle store, but not in any kind of online or PDF format. If e-Readers continue to monopolize eBooks, we tablet users might not have a choice but to use e-Readers in the future, too. It’ll take away from the tablet PC ideal–the one device that’s your computer, your scratchpad, internet tablet, everything–but, as long as it remains keyboardless, the tablet PC won’t be replaced (and perhaps a few other contributing factors, like the capabilities of the web browser, the ability to use a different operating system, the size capacity, ports, etc).

    Reply

  3. feralboy

    05/06/2009 at 6:10 pm

    Sara Fausia,

    Ahmen to that, sister (:

    Reply

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