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Tablets Have Come of Age

And there is no turning back

This week I attended a Mobile Monday event sponsored by Barnes & Nobile (B & N) which discussed Tablet Computing and promoted their Nook Developer program. The Chair for the meeting was Marek Pawlowski, Founder and Organiser MEX @marekpawlowski and the Panel consisted of Claudio Romanini - Director, Developer Relations, Barnes & Noble (B&N), Stuart Dredge - Freelance Journalist @stuartdredge, Hesham Al-Jehani - Product Manager, Mobile , Comscore and Ben Scott Robinson- creative director, We Love Mobile @bscr. This article is a combination of notes from the meeting and my thoughts.



I must admit this was the first time that I had ever heard of the B & N Android powered 'Reader Tablet'. It seems that the Nook has a number of Android features obscured to make a better reading experience but without taking away the ability to run apps (their description, not what I would say). B&N stated that children and education categories are the majority in their apps and they have a typical customer that they refer to "Julie"As 75% of Nook buyers are women in the 25-45 in age and not technical. Even in their physical stores a similar percentage of their customers a women that live within driving distance to their local B&N.

What about traditional Books vs Tablets? We are so beyond this with digital books and I am sure tablets will NOT kill books or publishing. There will always be those that really love the experience of reading a book and there will always be the need for publishers. Even with the ability to create eBooks with such great tools as Apple's iBooks Author, the professional skills to do so are still in the hands of authors and publishers. Personally I do not like printed books now. They are hard to transport, not searchable and pale into insignificance when you add the aspect of added inserted digital media, such as videos, audio, animated and or interactive graphics.

You would already know I am a passionate Mobile Evangelist for Tablet Computing (in the form of the Apple iPad) and this event brought up some interesting anecdotes as well as statistics for my favorite area.

Interesting usage scenarios, suggested by the panel...

  • Silver-surfer can grasp and use immediately and confidently, exploring content, without the complication of a desktop OS.
  • Children using for reading and entertainment. Especially shared time with a parent 1:1
  • Collaborative browsing and sharing within family, ie. between partners (I will talk about that again later)
  • Consuming rather than creating content but this will change with more apps as tablets become take over from laptops for mobile computing

It is my belief that Laptops are new desktop and tablets are the new mobile computing model

Included in the evening were some interesting figures (US based)

  • 70% of households that have a tablet... Children use parents tablets... Mainly for Games, education applications and viewing videos
  • 21% of tablet use is in bed... Reading? Browsing?
  • 75% Android internet access is over 3G
  • 75% iOS internet access over wifi. Are iOS Users more content hungry or iOS more content rich?
  • 90% of Internet traffic generated by mobile devices are from iOS devices
  • 30% tablet usage in front of TV only 20% smartphone. Suggesting different modes of mobile usage and users?

Within the Consumer Market, Tablet internet access increases after work, also Tablets are being used in conjunction with entertainment and media as they are a comfortable format for consuming such content. In the Enterprise Market they are even more powerful and portable than their laptop cousins, due to their size to weight ratio, that will only get better with advances in technology. As the title suggests I already believe that Tablets have come of age and with the launch of the New iPad, which has sold 3 million of the devices since launching on Friday (that number does not include preorders of the device, which went live the day the product was announced) I believe that the Tablet is eclipsing PC in the Post-PC Era. As Philip Schiller, Apple's Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing said, "The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold… the strongest iPad launch yet".

Lastly what about sharing a tablet? It is something most families do, mainly with respect to parent and child. Not so much in other circumstances such as business, due to personal and corporate information access etc. In either area, what is needed is a combination of safety mechanisms and trust models, including app and or OS level features. For iOS this will have to happen through Apple, though a colleague said to me… "Will that happen? As most Tablet Vendors want 1:1 between tablets and users?", but I think it is a valid request.

Check out my article from last year here where I suggested an iOS enhancement for adhoc app security, in addition and beyond in-built App security, which is always needed in the Enterprise.

I'm a supporter of in-house Mobile Apps, Mobile Developer Programs and Community, so why not check out your local Mobile Monday? They are an interesting and thought provoking group.

Please follow me on Twitter @ithain

More Stories By Ian Thain

As one of the Sybase Technical Evangelists, Ian regularly addresses technical audiences all over the world and his sessions are always very well attended. He also writes education classes, whitepapers, demos and articles for various Sybase products and publishes regularly in Journals such as SYS-CON's PBDJ and International Developer Magazine. He is also the Sybase Unwired Platform & PocketBuilder Evangelist and works closely with the team in Dublin, CA and Concord, MA on new features and demonstrations for the products. In his customer-facing Evangelist role, Ian is very involved with the design, production and testing of Enterprise class Unwired Solutions, that have been implemented using Sybase's Unwired tools for Sybase customers around the globe. In addition, Ian is a dedicated technical expert continually working with Sybase's key partners and clients to enhance the capabilities of the Unwired solutions that Sybase can offer to its customers. Ian can also be found on Twitter @ithain