The Tablet PC Killer App conversation

The search for the "killer app" for the Tablet PC always generates a lot of conversation and the current one started by Lora of whatisnew is a good one. The theory is that once this "must have" program appears it will drive a ton of new Tablet PC sales, as the ink-deprived decide they can’t live without this new tool so they rush out and buy a Tablet. I have spent many months thinking about this killer app and have even written about it. Let’s face it, the thought of a program so compelling that everyone will want it certainly appeals to the romantic side of each of us.

The varied opinions you get about this killer app proves that this question has no single answer. What is killer to me may very well be a program that you don’t need nor want. If you think about it this is certainly the way it is on non-Tablet PCs so perhaps we are chasing a pipe dream. Maybe the killer app is Vista, if it integrates ink handling into the very heart of the OS. You know, make both the interface and the ability to input ink anywhere so seamless that people look at it and say "wow I can’t live without that". Even lefties.

There are so many different categories of software that maybe it is worthwhile to look at each one and point out which program in each category is the best ink-enabled app. It may be the killer app for many who depend on that type of app. The list for me is quite short and sweet. For brainstorming, visual planning and outlining MindManager is already the killer app since ink handling is incorporated into the very core of the program. But there are a lot of people that have no need nor interest in that type of program so it’s not a killer app. For note-taking, organization and searching notes OneNote is close to my killer app but not quite there yet. Of course the next version of OneNote already has such essential features announced it surely will be. But again there are many who don’t depend heavily on note-taking so this is not a killer app for them. Graphic artists swear by Alias Sketchbook Pro and this program has sold many a Tablet PC to these folks. Me, I have very little artistic ability so it is just a blank scratchpad to me. The point is that killer app is in the eyes of the beholder, and we are all different so defining the one program that everyone can’t live without is just not going to happen.

Maybe the killer Tablet PC app is not a program at all. Perhaps we should be discussing what the killer "feature" for Tablet PCs might be. Maybe it’s the new mini-Tablets such as Haiku, that Bill Gates demonstrated at WinHEC earlier this year, and the Intel Ruby prototype that is being shown to folks attending trade shows. The killer feature could easily be the Tablet PC that you could take anywhere, so when you need to refer to your data, or jot a note, or look up information online, you can do it because you have the Tablet PC with you and not back at your home or office. Maybe we’d reach more people if we gave them a whiz-bang new device they couldn’t pass up because it’s full featured, it’s small enough to take everywhere, and the price is right? Wouldn’t that make for an interesting discussion?

Haiku demoed at WinHEC
Intel Ruby
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