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Tablet Isn’t Dead – We Just Need a Leader


on that a funeral procession I hear coming down Bourbon Street, celebrating the death of Tablet PC? Absolutely not! Life in Tablet land is certainly not as vital as it should be, though, and this is a challenge the industry should take by the horns.

We’ve heard quite a lot from readers, GBM writers, ISVs, and hardware partners in the past week about their concerns regarding a technology we all know is superior and has so much unrealized potential. There is a lot of pent up frustration aimed toward Microsoft and OEMs, a lot of it rightly placed. For the first time, players within this space are starting to speak out, and it is eye-opening to hear from the likes of InPlay Technologies, N-Trig, and Active Ink Software confirming what many have been reluctant to talk about the past five and a half years: folks are not happy with the status quo and we want change.

We want Microsoft to publicly stand behind a technology they actively evangelized in the early years. There has been a large disconnect between Bill Gates personal passion for Tablet and what Microsoft actually does. It means putting their marketing dollars and expertise behind it. It means righting the things that are causing partners like InPlay to call Microsoft a “black hole” when it comes to innovation in the market place. It means leading by example with their own solutions and UI. It means addressing SDK issues that ISVs have. It means active change.

We want OEMs actively working with ISVs like Active Ink, Einstein Technologies, EverNote, and Bluebeam in marketing this superior technology. OEMs have their fair share of blame with the current state of affairs, and certainly have as much marketing clout as Microsoft to help right this ship. What they’ve done in the past certainly has not worked. I know OEMs like HP are reporting blazing sales of tablets like the TX2500, but I wonder how many folks actually know there is a pen in that thing and are aware of the software and experiences that await them. The Mobile PC space seems to be leaving Tablet behind, and it should be the other way around: tablet technology should be the leading driver in mobile computing.

I seriously believe that a mini-summit of sorts is needed, bringing the likes of Microsoft’s Windows team, Microsoft’s marketing team, Microsoft’s Office team, Toshiba, Motion, Fujitsu, Dell, N-Trig, Wacom, InPlay, ISVs,, MVPs, a segment of users, and resellers to the table to openly address the state of the industry and where we take things from here. There doesn’t seem to be a unified vision, a leader if you will, taking us all to the promised land. We lack vision and are sorely in need of a leader.

These are definite challenges, and every technology solution faces them, especially ones like tablet that threatens to change the way people think about interacting with a computer. They are paradigm shifts in thinking that often take years to come about. The struggle is keeping the momentum, excitement, and focus during the years that it takes for a technology to finally take hold. I’m still very excited about Tablet PC, but am frustrated at the state it finds itself in right now.

Don’t break out the black suit, drums, and saxaphone just yet – Tablet isn’t dead and it won’t be dying any time soon. We just gotta get that jazz band playing a new tune.

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