2010 is well put behind us and it’s safe to say that we, as data and content consumers took a huge step up on the evolutionary ladder of computer technology last year. With the re-introduction of the tablet everyone now have a device that is simple enough to use, for novices of all ages and advanced enough for the experienced. No more fear of mouse and keyboard for granny and no more bite marks on them from the toddler, because the concept of poking a device to get interactive feedback is built into everyone. It can be a toy, information screen or a tool for most work related tasks, anywhere and at all times. The tablet brings meaning to the “P” in PC.
At the time of launch not many technology experts gave the device(s) much credit. Satoru Iwata, President at Nintendo said on January 29th 2010 that “…It was a bigger iPod Touch. I question whether those features would be enough to get people to buy new machines…” Another good one was from Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek that on February 5th 2010 said “Yet it’s hard to see how the iPad, in the form unveiled last month, will come close to transforming daily life as much as the iPod or iPhone. The challenge with the iPad will be less about improving an established market than building a new one.” These quotes and more can be found here, it’s a funny read :) but who could blame them? It’s quotes with potential as Bill Gates’ famous quote “Computers will never need more than 512k of RAM”.
They were all wrong of course. The iPad is true innovation! Maybe not so in terms of technology, technologically it is “nothing” more than an over sized iPod, but as a working idea and concept it is “computingly” mind blowing and it’s about to change how the world use and thinks of computers.
10 000 000 iPads sold alone in less than a year and another 50+ different new tablet devices presented at CES 2011 in January that will see will see in the shops this year should be “proof” enough. Adding to this; Forrester research released a report predicting that by 2012 tablet sales will have outgrown netbook sales, and that by 2015 tablet sales will make up 23% of the two billion global PC market, a PC market which Forrester defines as being desktops, laptops, netbooks and tablets.
I think that Forrester’s numbers might be too moderate. I believe that by the end of 2011 a tablet will be the preferred computing device in most households. The only reason to buy a laptop computer would be if you are a professional with special needs in programming, design, game or video production. Looking even further I predict that in a few years computers as we know them will disappear altogether. Technology like Microsoft Surface will take over and fulfill all the needs of graphical artists and for video and audio producers. Before the computers there was light tables and it will be going back to the light table again, but this time you don’t need paper and glue. The table itself is interactive. The change is un-inevitable, It will happen within the next 10-15 years and you can kiss the “PC” as you know it goodbye.
What does tablets do to the professionals? The web/interaction/game designers and developers? When you look at the numbers and the predictions there is a clear pattern that points to a near future where all web pages and software primarily will be designed and developed for a tablet device. It will be turned up side down from what we are doing today, where you create a webpage with interactive content designed for mouse/keyboard interaction first, then you optionally have a scaled down mobile version, or now, after 2010 – you have as a third option when you combine a mobile and tablet version not taking advantage of any of the mediums but compromise to keep cost down and making a mess of it. I think that as of 2011 web/interaction/game designers and developers will need to get used to the idea that the primary device they are designing for is a tablet to be consumed on a small screen someone uses in the comfort of their sofa or while commuting on bus or train.