First of all, I want to point out that James and I are good friends. Our websites are quite complimentary and share a good raport. So, read the following in the context of some good friends having a healthy debate. All in all, I think you’ll find that James and I are not in disagreement on a lot with this issue, but I did want to highlight two items:
I believe James overestimates the impact of Dell coming out with a Tablet PC. Sure, it will impact the enterprise in a positive way and make inroads to markets where IT shops are purely Dell. It will bring awareness to a platform we all feel is superior. This will happen in the same way that Lenovo positively impacted the market. However, when Lenovo entered the tablet pc area, it wasn’t earth shattering with every Tom, Dick, and Harry coming in to Starbucks sporting a Tablet PC. What I did see was more drug reps carrying an X41 and that is a good thing for sure. If the Dell Tablet PC rumors come true and they come out with a unit that closely models the D420, my point has been validated about a lack of innovation and design. I welcome Dell to the table with open arms, but can they please come to the table with something yummy to eat rather than a repeat of last night’s hamburger?
I totally agree with James that Tablet PCs today are just as powerful as their counterparts, and that is a good thing. They should be. At this point inthe game, we shouldn’t expect less. But that is not the innovation I’m talking about. Those are things that put the tablet on par with other notebooks. Where are the features that help set it apart? Are they pushing the envelope design wise? Are they designing for the pen user or just sticking a wacom digitizer on a screen, making it a single spindle machine and calling it a tablet? Where are the mobility enhancements we’ve come to expect in Vista? Where are the software design innovations from ISVs?
I do admit that my 4 1/2 years in this space might be jading my outlook. New people coming in are totally wowed by the machines – a quick look at TabletKiosks i440D dual touch slate, and they are like ” I gotta have it “. But if an honest assessment is made over the past 4 1/2 years, looking at OEMs and what they continue to bring to market ( basically clones of what they’ve done in the past and what everyone else is doing), looking at software and the slow molasses pace it is moving at, what we have given up in battery life due to Vista and what the performance impact that Vista itself has dictated, I’m still left with that overarching feeling of “…next”.