Is the iPad Raising Awareness of Tablet PCs?

When the iPad was officially announced back in January a lot of us speculated that it would drive awareness of Tablet PCs. While the success of the iPad has kicked development of consumer slates into high gear, it hasn’t resulted in a lot more people seeking information about Tablet PCs. There’s still only one Tablet PC available at Best Buy, North America’s largest electronics retailer, and consumers seem to think that Apple invented the slate form factor.

Tablet PCs are awesome tools, especially for those who work on their feet or use pen-optimized software. But just because something’s good doesn’t mean companies will market them to the masses.

The TouchSmart tm2 is pretty much the only Tablet PC most consumers will ever have a chance to touch and play with before buying. But at $949 at Best Buy (and about the same on Amazon), it’s a tough sell to a student/parent that’s not familiar with Tablet PCs. There are plenty of sub $700 notebooks on the market with more impressive specs (drive, processor, battery life, etc.) that are sold by the truckload.

Most of the blue shirts selling PCs have probably never used a Tablet PC and the ones I’ve spoken to about the tm2 don’t seem to enthusiastic. During a recent visit to Best Buy, I asked a couple of Best Buy employees if they recommended the tm2. One of them responded that he recommended ‘Apple’s version’ and it was half the price. The other explained that it didn’t do anything special except for ‘folding in half so you can read web pages better.’ The advantages of Tablet PCs are clearly not being communicated by Microsoft, HP, etc. to retail associates.

The above chart from Google Trends illustrates the fact that about the same number of people are searching for information about Tablet PCs today as they were seven months ago. Google Trends reports similar results when you swap out ‘Tablet PC’ for product names. The iPad is doing a lot of things, but it’s not driving consumers to go seek information about Tablet PCs.

As we’ve mentioned countless times here at GBM, Tablet PCs really shine in specific use cases. But the average consumer is completely unaware of Microsoft’s efforts with the form factor. I have a feeling that convertible Tablet PCs will get even less mindshare once HP and others start pushing their consumer slates later this year.

So what do you think? Is the iPad raising awareness of the Tablet PC form factor where you live and work? I think Microsoft and its partners are missing out on an opportunity to push tablets as people are discovering the iPad.

14 Comments

  1. Feralboy

    07/21/2010 at 12:31 pm

    If HP releases a slate with a pen, well, isn’t it a tablet PC? Remember, among the first tablet PCs where slates, and from the article on your site about spotting the HP Win 7 slate on HP’s site, well, that’s a full-fledged tablet PC. I’m a convertible man all the way, but if the HP slate comes with a keyboard option, like the TC1100, well, I’m all in!

    Reply

  2. Scott

    07/21/2010 at 3:20 pm

    Students always marvel at my slate and want one, more so now that the iPad is out.

    But with only a few models out at Best Buy and the local Fry’s, the deck is stacked, especially in this economy.

    A campaign showing why you want an active digitizer (and touch) is needed. When people use a PC, they automatically enter “text mode” and can’t even begin to think about why they might want/need inking.

    Reply

  3. Feralboy

    07/21/2010 at 3:22 pm

    My understanding is that HP doesn’t provide Best Buy with computers over $800 anymore. They don’t even carry the TM2 (Online Only) in store, though they carried the TX2 line. They tried the Envy line in the stores but pulled them when they found the display units were in poor condition. Going to Best Buy can be pretty disappointing if you’re looking for a machine with high-end features. It seems silly to try to duplicate the features and the limitations of the iPad when you can create a machine that’s so much more. And I think we all know that if HP retooled the TC1100 and put it on the market, they’d have a winner on their hands…especially if they sell them for less than $1K. I’m so not depending on them to do the right thing here, though. They obiously think they know more than the tablet PC audience about what we want.

    Reply

  4. lsbeller

    07/21/2010 at 3:56 pm

    what I find interesting when using my pogo stylus and penultimate with my ipad is that everyone always asks if the ipad converts my ink to text. I think they get the concept and even want it but as with Tablet PCs are still intimidated by the technology.

    Steve

    Reply

  5. GTaylor

    07/21/2010 at 4:35 pm

    When was the last time you saw someone going about their job and singing to themselves? Or writing longhand just to see what develops? Have you ever seen someone draw on a pad of paper just because they wanted to? The small number of people who enjoy doing these types of things is probably representative of the tablet market. The scarcity of these activities shows how people are using their minds differently these days. People who do these types of things get it when it comes to thinking with a little stick in their hand. I feel that people who can’t understand the stylus mainly understand instant gratification… or the bottom line.

    Reply

    • Brett Gilbertson

      07/21/2010 at 6:12 pm

      Q: When was the last time you saw people taking notes on paper? A: Every minute, every day, every where… That’s the market for tablet pcs.

      2 things hold tablets back, and 2 things only – price and communication (marketing + sales).

      Reply

      • GTaylor

        07/22/2010 at 7:12 am

        Brett, I agree with you completely. Would price and communication with in the context of a company’s strategic plan be Marketing?
        Your first point describes the utilitarian aspect of note taking. Yes, everywhere, every when. This is what is done for purely utilitarian reasons, it has to be. Most fad based marketing attempts to obscure this, would you agree?
        Those who do not look on the very practical nature of how notes are taken as a stone age authoritarian imposition of their freedom to express themselves electronically, digitally, and to publish micro-minutia detritus globally, but rather as a simple, elegant, and direct method of connecting their mind to the real world around them, are the target audience for the tablet PC. And a pocket tablet PC. And a full sized semi-portable placard sized tablet PC. And a desk bound, room bound PC with the option to use touch for pen for input. All of these could use the same modular software, stored on the cloud, which would allow each user and device to ‘draw on’ only as much of the program as needed.
        I don’t really hope that you agree with me, Brett, but maybe I was clear enough for you to follow my line of thinking.

        Reply

  6. Nick

    07/21/2010 at 6:19 pm

    Probably the reason the BB blue shirts couldn’t recommend the TM2 is that in half the stores I’ve been in they have it locked in an anti-theft device in laptop mode and have removed the pen due to fear of theft. I guess none of them thought of a braided steel tether for the pen. Those stores that do have them on display in convertible neuter its direct marketability without a pen at hand. I usually end up educating the blue shirts about true TPC capabilities. I think all of us enthusiasts should just form a TPC marketing consult firm and relieve the manufacturer’s of their own myopic marketing and imaginative vision.

    Reply

  7. Nick

    07/21/2010 at 6:24 pm

    Wouldn’t it be great if Voodoo staff splintered from HP and were able to start up an enthusiast-centric tablet brand label? Just think of the innovation and revolution they could create if properly backed by HP $. …And then the alarm rang and I woke up.

    Reply

  8. Green Data Center

    07/22/2010 at 8:18 am

    there are many discounts available for each and evry product we can easily get the coupen code and get the discount for that specific product.
    we must use those discount coupen/voucher for buying Electronic item and Save Money..
    we too offer many discount and coupen so get in touch with us.

    Reply

  9. GTaylor

    07/22/2010 at 8:40 am

    Nick, Brett, Green Data Center (can I call you Green DC for short?), I think that this suggestion is a big part of what a site like GottaBeMobile.com could and should do, with the readership’s help. Direct interaction in the marketplace.

    Reply

  10. Peninsider

    07/22/2010 at 3:17 pm

    Touch is becoming more dominant and consumers are more interested in it than pen, alas. Part of the problem is that marketing touch on a convertible is just kind of dumb and nobody really gets it when they actually try it in a store.

    The slate form factor is the way to go, touch is critical to its usage and Apple figured out how to package it and market it. Kudos to them, but they forgot the pen. Pen will make its way back in the slate factor.

    Reply

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