eWeek: Analysts See The End Of Tablet PCs

by , 8:00 AM EDT, May 13th, 2004

eWeek is reporting that some industry analysts see the tablet PC fading away. The rather lengthy report states that there has been a decline in the number PC makers who offer 'slate' PCs, which are different from 'convertible' PCs which sport a keyboard, and that Microsoft seems to be undecided as to whether to continue to offer a high grade OS dedicated to tablet PCs.

From the eWeek News article, Analysts: Tablet PC Could Quietly Vanish:

Last week at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in Seattle, Microsoft executives said they had yet to decide just how this part of the next-generation Longhorn technology would be implemented. However, the number of companies offering slate Tablet PCs has declined, industry watchers said, indicative of the fact that tablets are still too highly priced and lack the functionality of modern notebooks.

The question is whether the Tablet PC and Microsoft's Windows XP Tablet Edition OS are being subsumed back into the notebook PC, a product the Tablet once broke away from. If they are, observers wonder, is there a need for a dedicated Tablet operating system?

So far, the only answers have been forthcoming from hardware makers, many of which have moved to "convertible notebooks," which combine a keyboard and a touchscreen. These devices run the Tablet PC OS.

However, for the slate hardware platforms, the outlook with customers is somewhat muddy. Slate PCs still play an important role in vertical enterprises, such as health care, vendors say, but "knowledge workers" have asked for a keyboard to complement the pen input.

The article goes on to discuss how the perception and the hidden costs of owning the tablet PC may have contributed to its possible demise. You can read the full article at eWeek.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It looks like Apple's resident CEO and fortune teller, Steve Jobs, might have been right again. By steadfastly refusing to buy into the hype surrounding the tablet PC, and the industry analysts insisting that Apple is missing the boat by not producing its own version, Apple has saved millions and can still point to the Newton as an indication of how a tablet PC should be made.

Still, there may be some who would contend that without Apple's participation the tablet PC was doomed from the start. Apple's famed industrial design team may have found a way to make the tablet more accessible by regular folks, and in doing so, would have shown how even PC tablets might be used beyond the niches they currently occupy. It's a good thought made more tangible when one looks at the Newton; a quasi-PDA/tablet that was 10 years ahead of its time, and is still finding an audience today.