As a self-professed tablet fanboy you'd think I would be preparing for the death of the laptop with the introduction of the iPad 2 and other capable tablets such as the Motorola XOOM. While I like a good tablet in my hands, I am aware enough to understand that the laptop is not going away any time soon, post-PC blockbuster or not.
Laptops have this thing called a keyboard that a tablet is lacking, and it makes a huge difference for users needing to create written content. It may not be the most efficient way to get lots of text into a document, but it is far better than alternatives. Say what you will about typing on a laptop keyboard, it is much better than tapping fake keys on a screen.
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Don't get me wrong, tablets will indeed take sales away from laptop makers. There are a lot of folks who dont create much written content who will be happy without a physical keyboard. Sales of tablets will continue to grow at a fast clip, especially with lots of products about to hit the market that provide choice. But laptops aren't going anywhere, in fact maybe competition from this unexpected source will drive notebook prices down.
I started thinking about this tablet/ laptop thing after a visit from my step-daughter last night. She brought our grandbaby over for a visit, and while we were cooing over the baby she noticed the Motorola XOOM sitting on the coffee table. She picked it up, and was instantly hooked.
She uses a netbook at home, but like a lot of folks her usage is confined pretty much to online activities. She got excited the longer she played with the XOOM, as these online activities fit the tablet perfectly. She is now seriously considering replacing her netbook with a tablet of some kind, as it fits her lifestyle.
So how does this back up my statement that the laptop is not going to disappear in favor of tablets? Listening to her describe how perfectly the tablet fits her current lifestyle, I realized that is only temporary. In just a few years her daughter will be heading off to school, and based on my experience with our kids I know that's when she'll need a laptop, no matter how prevalent tablets become between now and then.
Schoolkids are expected to use laptops for homework, and with particular software tools. That means Microsoft Office, and not a generic equivalent. Assignments have specific guidelines which basically requires a laptop with web connectivity, running Office. This is a good thing, as in addition to enforcing uniformity in the student's work, it insures they will get experience using the tools that are in common use.
It is important that kids get exposure to these tools commonly used in the workplace, and this means computers with keyboards. The training wil prepare them for the real world, and that does not mean touch tablets. The enterprise may start incorporating tablets in the the workplace, but on a limited basis. There are too many factors that will make laptops the preferred computing tool in the enterprise, so kids will need to learn how to use them.
So laptops are here for the duration, and that's a good thing. The more choice we have determining the tools we use, the better. I love my tablets, but I need the keyboard.