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Summary:

Lora Heiny points to David Coursey’s article “Tablet PC is Stronger than Predictions Suggest” and loves his statement “My expectation has been, and continues to be, that Tablet PC will only sell in large numbers when it becomes a no-brainer to buy”. This brings on the […]

Lora Heiny points to David Coursey’s article “Tablet PC is Stronger than Predictions Suggest” and loves his statement “My expectation has been, and continues to be, that Tablet PC will only sell in large numbers when it becomes a no-brainer to buy”.

This brings on the natural question– how do you make a Tablet PC a “no-brainer” purchase decision?  I’ve been giving this some thought and while my needs may very well be different than other users I know what would do it for me.  A killer app.  You see that mentioned a lot, that there is no killer app for the Tablet PC that would push prospective consumers over the edge.

The killer app that I envision is one that I think would appeal to many people from diverse backgrounds.  The program I would find very appealing is a collaboration tool that totally supports ink, audio and video.  Imagine having an online meeting with a small team and using a tool that provides a whiteboard that accepts text and ink, audio capability so the entire session can be augmented by a real conversation among the collaborators, and that can be recorded for posterity.  Throw in video and everyone could even webcam in the session.

The ink would really come into its own if you could bring in any Office document and create or edit it right in the tool.  Ink markups and annotations could be done by anyone in the session, automatically appearing in a different color that the convenient legend in the corner helps identify who wrote what.  Imagine working on Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents in such an environment!  To be really ambitious throw PDF handling into the mix and you would have a real “meeting in a box”.  The app should not be restricted to the same domain, you should be able to bring participants in from anywhere and painlessly network everyone into the session.

On the surface this sounds like a business tool but I believe it would be even more widely used in a personal setting.  Keeping in touch with family and friends would be great with voice and the ability to bring photos in to exchange and talk about.  I think this “killer app” would have an appeal for just about everyone if it was well done and was pitched just right.  What would your killer app be for the Tablet PC?

  1. I would love to see Mind Manager add these things. We use LearnLinc for our meetings right now and it is ok but there is so much more that could be done with an ink-enabled collaboration tool.

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  2. I don’t disagree with Walter, but I’d like to see the “sharable ink environment” built off of OneNote (ON). Although ON has sharing capabilities, I haven’t been able to utilize them, although that could be the result of my environment or network. Ideally, if the ON core were supplemented with additional voice and video capabilities, it would become more valuable. Additionally, if ON were an “umbrella” over a sharable Office suite (think Office Binder, only more powerful and flexible), the ink-ability of the apps could be greatly leveraged.

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  3. I’m skeptical about the killer app scenario. The breakthrough in tablet use could come from people mostly using conventional software but choosing a tablet for ease of use on the go. The vision that Bill Gates, James Kendrick and others have enunciated of an $800 computer that fits in an oversize jacket pocket may be the answer.
    The best historical example may be CD ROM drives – there was no killer app, but the ability to have lots of existing content in a convenient form was what drove adoption to the point of universality. The factors to watch may be things like fuel cells and big jacket pockets, not killer apps.

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  4. The answer isn’t in a “Killer app.”

    With all the convertables in particular the issue is the price premium.

    I read people saying “hundreds” of dollars.
    But when you consider the low specs of most devices, most with no optical drive, we are talking around a grand.

    I have a Fujitsu slate and love it.

    To convince someone else that taking away a keyboard, and optical drive, makes my 1 gig processor, 40 gig HP device worth two of his faster, DVD burning machines is a tough sell.

    An app becomes “killer” when everyone else has it goes from “want” to “need” because you are at a disadvantage, without it.
    As long as tablets are rare that cannot happen.

    For example, Go Binder IS an awesome app for students.
    It is in fact the Killer, app for that market.

    Even w/o Go Binder the utility of a tablet over a laptop for a student is obvious. There is no question about it.
    Every single college student on the planet would be better served by a tablet.
    But students have laptops over tablets by a huge ratio. Why? Price. (Additionally, the lack of knowledge about this advantages of tablets.)

    If tablets had say a 150.00 premium, and people actually knew whats so great about tablets, its a no brainer because it becomes a question of why not.

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  5. Oops when I said “HP” I meant “Fujitsu.”

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  6. Wow, I just went back and actually read the article.
    His take is in fact near identical to mine.
    Wasted time posting all that when I could have said “ditto.” Oh well :)

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  7. College Books

    More than half the price, size, and weight. It is perfect for taking notes.

    The only reason I don’t have one is price.

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  8. Tablets still an early platform; a lot of developers are still trying to guess how they could adapt it the real world. But it’s has already found an established audience in the corporate market: I was quiet amazed by the number of Tablets at the Microsoft world partner conference. The same applies in some vertical markets. This is because the platform has a premium price (especially the slate models) and only those who see it as a productivity booster tool are willing to bet on the platform.

    When prices will lower (without sacrificing too much on the quality) more people will be willing to bet a few buck on the platform. But price is not the only factor, the other factor is usability.

    It think the hardware form factors have still not reach a level for usability out side the corporate market. For example only recently appeared the mini tablets. I believe much more students are willing to move all day long those smaller devices because they weight less, are somewhat less fragile (as they stick less out of the bags and get less mechanical stress) and are more adapted to packed environments. The student’s killer app exists already since long: for many years there are no more notes taking happening in engineering schools. Teacher had out prints of the PowerPoint slides and students annotate them. Digital ink on Power Points is the killer application for them. But give them a small device which can be used as an HP calculator (I loved the HP emulator on palm), replace their agenda, have a copy on the go of all their text books and notes, IM like SMS on cell phone, enough power for the day… Then you would have the new IPOD.

    Now there are plenty of other opportunities for tablets, but the students seem to be next logical move after the corporates.

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  9. Steve, the thing is so many students are already using notebook computers.

    Why aren’t at least these notebook users all adopting tablets?

    Heck it seems that smaller screen lighter slates are more common among business types than students as it is.

    True a variety of form factors will make tablets more appealing, true.

    But price, and understanding the real value of pen computing, are far larger deterrents to their adoption.

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