Opinion: Looking at the Future of Tablets

To this day, still my favorite form factor.
To this day, still my favorite form factor.

I just finished reading “Windows, iOS or Android: Who will win the business tablets battle?” over at ZDNet. In the post Steve Ranger talks about how the consumer market for tablets has slowed, and how the manufacturers are now pursuing enterprise customers, and who might win this race. I offer that article for you, because it is an interesting read, but I won’t be talking about it, other to say that I see things very differently. I thought this would be a good time to give my opinion about the future of tablets. Again, this is entirely my opinion.

Let me start out by stating the obvious. I am a tech geek. I see all those little gadgets and I want them. I want them all and I want them now. And when tablets first started appearing, there was no one more excited for them than I. It was better than what Star Trek showed us. It was a computer in a slab, in the palm of our hands. I had previously owned Palm Pilots, and various different PDA’s that I can’t even remember their names anymore. I’ve used BlackBerry devices for years. And the thought of a tablet, blew all that away.

I owned of these... what was I thinking?
I owned of these… what was I thinking?

I remember waiting for tablets to start appearing in stores. The blogs were talking about what was coming but there was nothing in the stores. In fact, the first tablet that became available around me was attached to a printer. It was Android, and was set up entirely to control the printer. It wouldn’t work with most the apps that were out there, but it came apart from the printer, and was a tablet. And I bought it. And enjoyed it for about a week or two. I bought so many tablets. Cheap androids that arrived in stores first. I bought my first BlackBerry Playbook! And immediately felt bad for spending that much money on a tablet, and returned it. Then with the money I got back from that, I turned around and bought the first Samsung Galaxy Tab, and headed out on vacation to Disneyland. I carried the Samsung with me. I loved how it fit in the side pocket of my shorts. And that was about all I loved. And after the vacation, I returned the Galaxy Tab, and bought my second BlackBerry Playbook. This I used for sometime, and broke the screen. And bought my third BlackBerry Playbook. I bought a few more Playbook’s as time went  by, I got a newer Galaxy Tab 7, which I eventually gave away, and I bought a Galaxy Note 10.1 which I believe I kept for about 2 weeks before I returned it. Then I found Windows tabs. I now own 2 of those. One of which I am typing this on right now. And I still have a Playbook.

I’ve had a pretty extensive history with tablets. BlackBerry, Android, Windows, I’ve owned them all. I never had an iPad. I did own several iPods, and didn’t see the purpose of having a larger one. But because of this, I feel that I have every right to say something I thought I’d never say. And that’s that Thorsten Heins was kind of right. I don’t think that tablets will ever reach the point that I thought they would. I don’t think that they will be an everyday device that we will all carry around. I think the effort that manufacturers have put in to create and push these devices will ever pay off like it was hoped. Why? Because smartphones have grown too fast.

I've got to admit, I really like the Venue 8 Pro.
I’ve got to admit, I really like the Venue 8 Pro.

When I think back to the most useful tablet I owned, the one that lasted longer than any of the others, the one which I still own and that still sees use when I’m feeling nostalgic, I can see the obvious reason I loved it so much. The BlackBerry Playbook, much maligned by the general populous, had a quality none of the other tablets had. It was useful. I carried a BlackBerry Torch 9810 when I was really using my Playbook. I loved that phone. But there were limits. It had a small screen. It’s browser greatly lacked. But when I bridged to my Playbook, everything was complete! A larger screen! My e-mail, calendar, and later my BBM and text messages, on a form factor which I still love. And the browser. Oh my goodness. That browser! How I loved that browser!

And yet, eventually, my Playbook stopped being carried around with me. It started staying home when I went out. It lived next to my couch, where I could grab it to watch videos or browse when I plopped down after a long day. Why? Because I got my Z10. My Z10 could do everything my Playbook could do, and better. The only thing that was lacking was a larger screen. And that’s where I think the breakdown occurs.

In this day where smartphones can replace your laptops, why would I, using a BlackBerry 10 device, need a Playbook? Why would an Android phone user need an Android tab? Why would an iPhone user need an iPad? Even Windows Phone is starting to bridge the gap between the phone OS and real Windows. What is the need for a tablet now? My opinion? A larger screen. Because there is really not much that you would use a tablet for that you couldn’t use a phone for anymore. The time of ‘mobile computing’ is now.

At this point, I see tablet makers as trying to squeeze the last dollars out of a dying platform. There is simply no need for them anymore. What we need, as users, are dumb tablets, which would mirror our phones, and we could have that larger screen and interact with everything on our phone, as it sits in our pocket. We need terminals so that we can set our phones down on our desk, and have a full screen monitor, mouse and keyboard, while once again, our phone is wirelessly sitting at the heart of it. This is not something in the future. This is now. Our phones are fully capable of this, we just need manufacturers to stop pushing tablets on us, and give us our dumb screens and dumb terminals.

So there you have it. My opinion. Coming from someone that was screaming at my screen when I read that Thor was giving up on the Playbook, and thought ‘mobile computing’ was too far off in the future, and who now agrees wholeheartedly with him, and wish everyone else would just catch up.

What do you think? Am I off the mark?

Also, as an addendum, I think BlackBerry Blend will show everyone that this will be the future, and once again, BlackBerry will be leading the way.


Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs. Former BlackBerry Elite. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.