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Gavin Greig [userpic]

Most Wanted

November 1st, 2011 (10:39 pm)
current location: KY16 8SX

Meant to post this nearly a month ago, but it's still interesting. What kind of tablet do people really, really want to have? An Android device? No, surely it's got to be an iPad? Read on...


Posted by: Alice Dryden (huskyteer)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 10:18 am (UTC)
2-Way Wrist iMac

Doesn't surprise me all that much, now it's been pointed out; people want a tablet that will sync with their desktop. So for me it would be an iPad, but for a Windows user...

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 10:49 am (UTC)

I was a bit surprised since there isn't really a credible alternative to the iPad at the moment in hardware terms, but you're absolutely right it's about which stack people are bought into. For me, it's the Microsoft stack; for many of my friends it's Apple's. I was interested to note recently that over 50% of visits to my web site were from Safari!

I get frustrated working on a Mac developing for iPad/iPhone (as I am at the moment), but I remember more Mac-comfortable colleagues feeling the same about our MS environment. The real, practical differences between the platforms are not so great - a lot of it these days is just what conventions you're used to.

It's a shame MS don't invest more in developing hardware, because when they do it's generally pretty good, and I can't help feeling they're often let down by their box-shifting hardware partners. Having said that, they're clearly trailing even in tablet-friendly OS software at the moment, though Windows 8 may change that.

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 12:47 pm (UTC)

I've become a firm believer that consumer-oriented devices benefit enormously from integrated design of hardware and software.

Microsoft manage that with their Xbox - why can't they do the same for tablets and phones?

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)

Although they don't make their own phones, they've clearly taken a step in that direction by providing a fairly prescriptive spec to the hardware manufacturers (and working particularly closely with Nokia). So I think they recognise what you're saying, but getting into hardware's a big step that could damage a lot of existing business relationships and isn't particularly guaranteed to pay off. Perhaps the big risk isn't worth it while you're ahead.

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 12:44 pm (UTC)

I'm not convinced by the need to sync with a desktop. Apple have put significant effort into iOS 5 to make iPads, iPhones, and iPod Touches work without syncing. iTunes is gradually being reduced in importance (which, from listening to my Windows-using colleagues, is a significant positive step).

I understand there are a large number of people who never synced their devices (beyond initial configuration). Syncing is a chore rather than a benefit.

(On the other hand, easy access to the data on the mobile device is very important - but the iOS strategy is to sync that to the cloud rather than to users' desktops.)

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 01:44 pm (UTC)

Ugh, cloud. I was interested to hear flybynightpress's recent experience when it became plain that the cloud version of what was on his iPad was what Apple regarded as definitive, leading to a situation where major data loss was on the cards. Sorry, can't recount/recall the details.

While syncing may not often be necessary, I'd be very annoyed with a device that didn't let me do something along those lines, without recourse to the cloud unless I make an explicit informed choice to do that; and it's just easier to sync within the same stack.

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)

Yes, one of the big changes with iCloud is that the cloud is always regarded as the definitive version of any data. With the older MobileMe/iSync system, it was much less clear cut (and could lead to a lot of user confusion and duplicate data when things got out of sync).

Mind you, that means that getting the right data into the cloud to start with is pretty important.

As iCloud is being built into al of the Apple apps, and with good API support for third-party apps, it is clear that it is an essential part of the platform (and I guess, therefore, that liking or disliking the iCloud approach will become a key aspect of deciding whether to use iOS devices).

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)

It rules out any death-bed conversions from me ;-)

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)

If only Microsoft hadn't cancelled the Courier, they might have a credible tablet platform that would be distinctly different from the other players.


But no, they had to go for the Windows-on-everything strategy (which I think is a significant contributor to the failure of every tablet that Microsoft has so far been involved with).

Posted by: Gavin Greig (ggreig)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)

But I see (successful) Windows on everything as more appealing than a tablet with two screens. The question is whether they can do it successfully.

Rather frustratingly, I haven't had the opportunity to try Windows 8 on a touch-capable machine yet. Frustratingly, because on a desktop machine with a bog-standard monitor, I want to reach out and touch it. But it's not as mouse/keyboard friendly as one might hope. So the OS may work out for both environments, but plainly needs work before release if that's to be true. Of course MS know that and they have about a year to polish it in.

Posted by: Toby Atkin-Wright (tobyaw)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2011 03:04 pm (UTC)

The sad thing is how much effort Microsoft have put into tablets over the years — but with neither cultural nor commercial impact.

There has been something wrong with their strategy, or with their ability to deliver, and perhaps it is linked to the general stagnation that Microsoft has experienced over the past ten years. I think part of it is the mindset that says a tablet computer is defined by its form factor, but otherwise is just like a regular computer, a business device, to be managed and used like any other resource.

But the other approach — what Apple did with the iPad, what Microsoft do with their Xbox, what Palm did, what most mobile phone companies do — is to create a personal device. One where the user has a genuine feeling of ownership, where the user feels in control (I’d challenge anyone to feel in control of a standard Windows install!), and where the user has an emotional connection with their device.

This isn’t unique to electronics — people have long had emotional connections with cars, or with guitars. Some brands seem to foster a greater emotional connection, which I guess is partly cultural and partly personal.

There has to be some love in there.

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