Gartner is projecting that more than 55 million tablets will be sold this year (growing past 200 million in 2014). While most of these will be iPads, millions will be from Samsung, RIM, Motorola, and 75+ more. Buyers of these tablets will be from all walks of life: homes, SMBs and large enterprises.
This is a VERY BIG deal. We are seeing a shift in how people use computing devices (what Clayton Christiansen would call a “disruptive innovation.”) However, what is now different is whereas smartphones added a new way of computing, tablets are displacing an existing one: the keyboard-based personal computer.
Taking advantage of this displacement requires a new way of thinking. Tablets are not just “flat PCs with touch keyboards” or “big smartphones without the phone.” They represent a new way people interact with technology: moving, turning, tilting, swiping, tapping, pinching, and more—all on something that is about the size of, the most widely used form of information storage in history, a piece of paper. Going from near-zero to growing annually by 50+ million units every year for four years will drive many more new ways to interact with tablets: better cameras, IR and barcode sensors, directional microphones, voice recognition, projectors and more.
What tablets are doing—in a big way—is providing the first low-cost, compelling and easy-to-use (i.e., mass-market) platform for augmented reality. Those who want to take advantage of this new growing market need to realize this (those who don’t will miss multiple generations of product development). Oh, if you don’t think augmented reality will soon be mainstream, check out The Black Fin.
How do we make the jump to take advantage of this change? First we need to drop the old concepts of the mouse and keyboard–or the PC—and ask more elemental questions:
- How do I interact with world today without tech—be it work, life or play
- How would I improve the experience by capturing or adding information in multiple forms: touch, motion, sound?
- How do I combine this old and new in a way that is natural and intuitive?
We are starting to see just the very beginning of this with some very cool applications (interactive maps, iBooks, virtual pianos, and lots of cool games). These are only Generation One ideas. It will be exciting to see what comes next—especially for things we spend hours doing each day. Once we get this in place, we will have a Star Trek-like like. Although it will look whole lot better than the futuristic 24th century tricorders we saw on TV 20 years ago.