Will Demand Meet the Tablet Supply?


Dell (s dell) is using CES to offer a glimpse of its first tablet, an Android-based gadget with a 5-inch screen that’s a bit bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a netbook. The company is joining a crush of hardware manufacturers and software developers jumping into a white-hot tablet space, creating a buzz that has expanded beyond the tech sector to attract attention from mainstream media outlets such as USA Today and MSNBC.com. But is there really much demand for these little connected devices that aren’t phones?

source: CNET

At CES this week, Microsoft has trotted out an HP (s hpq)-branded tablet, Lenovo has showcased a laptop/tablet hybrid and Motorola (s mot) has offered a glimpse of an upcoming tablet product, to name just a few of the companies using the Las Vegas show to flash sleek new offerings. In the meantime, Apple (s aapl) is rumored to be readying a tablet as well. And many of the new tablets run Google’s (s goog) mobile operating system, which– as Google’s Andy Rubin rightly boasts — offers the flexibility to be leveraged on a host of different platforms (and which, as Om noted, could lead to the Androidification of everything).

But while Apple’s iPod touch — which is kind of a mini-tablet — has been a hit, tablet-like devices offered in the past from Microsoft, Fujitsu and others haven’t managed to find much of an audience. That could change in the next few years given the increasing presence of Wi-Fi and the deployment of 4G networks, and we’re likely to see a host of non-phone gadgets gain traction as connectivity comes to a wide variety of consumer electronics devices. But consumers will be asked to shell out at least a few hundred dollars to carry a gadget in addition to their existing phones — some of which function pretty well as mini-computers. Whether there are enough users willing to do so is far from clear.



In order to answer the questions you raised, we need to answer a few questions some of which are:

  1. What devices are they replacing?

Cell phones/Smart Phones? Perhaps not but it is conceivable that some smart phone users might give up smart phones and move to simple cell phones and the tablet PCs.

Laptops/PCs? Probably not because they may not have the same features.

Notebooks and smartbooks? Perhaps makes sense.

TVs? Probably not. May be mobile TVs but they are not yet very prevalent.

MP3 Players? Probably not gives the difference in sizes and portability constraints.

E-readers? Possible though the tablets may be more strainful on eyes.

Portable DVD Players? May be but the cost differences are substantial and one has to work to load DVD content.

  1. Who are the major customers?

Students – perhaps replacing their books? May also include Doctors, sales people and other people on the move. Soccer Moms catching up on previous night’s serials.


You mention 4G connectivity. I think the price of connectivity in general will play a major role in determining the demand for such devices.
Current plans for 3G are far more expensive than the typical wired connection in the home. (Maybe Starbucks should sell a tabled/slate device)
At some point, people run out of money.


Pen = fail – touch = win

It is that simple. Previous tablets failed because they were always designed as “pen computing” devices. Honestly, WTF? That is like building a “brick flying device” – you might actually get it to work, but it would be stupid.

First vendor to give me a slick 8-10″ touch tablet for a decent price in a nice form factor wins. Any vendor that shows a tablet with a stylus or pen will fail because it’s stupid. Why make a nice touch screen if you can’t… you know… touch it? On-screen keyboard with a touch screen for text entry – well that and speech recognition as an option.

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