Personal View: Michael Gartenberg

With the Apple event just hours away, here’s a final view in our series on what it would take to turn its impending tablet computer into a true breakthrough product – and prompt gadget lovers to actually go out and buy one. Scroll down for earlier posts.

“Tablets, up until this point have not been very successful for the most part. Consumers have viewed them as in between a laptop and a cell phone, with lots of duplications in functionality and therefore one more thing to carry with them. It’s going to be interesting to see if Apple can come up with a way that can change the role of a tablet in a way that’s additive – something that you are going to want to use and not something that just duplicates what you already have.

Microsoft has been trying to do tablets for more than a decade. In 2002, Bill Gates was talking about almost this type of device – a slate that would become the next big thing. The problem was they tried to shoehorn PC functionality into a tablet and it wasn’t meant to work with a pen. PC functionality is meant to work with a keyboard. So you got something that didn’t quite belong.

One of the things we got with the iPhone was that the speculation was that Apple would take an iPod and slap a dialler on it, but in the end that was nothing at all like what Apple delivered. So it has to be something that isn’t going to be in a direct line between the phone and the laptop as one of those “tweener” devices. It will have software optimised for that particular form factor.

I’ve certainly tried using all the existing tablets and they were all wanting. It was either an extra device to carry around with me or the tablet was not good enough to set alongside a laptop’s functionality. Could that change? Yes, Apple understands this, that for 15 years people have tried making these devices and they’ve all failed, and they would hope they have a different take on what this functionality might be. That’s going to be the entire aspect – not only what functionality they put in but what they leave out as well.

The hardware has been there for any number of years, now the question is can someone take the hardware advances and come up with the software and a device that makes it desirable to consumers.

At the end of the day, these have not become mass-market devices and Apple does not typically look to build for tens of thousands to buy, it is looking for tens of millions in sales.”

Michael Gartenberg is a technology strategist currently employed at Interpret, LLC as Vice President of Strategy and Analysis.

Interview by Chris Nuttall

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