It's making me wonder whether tablet PCs, no matter what innovations come from them, might go the way of the Palm Pilot.
Cheap phones made the Palm Pilot obsolete years ago, even though the Palm did some things better.
Calendaring, directories, and interfaces were all better with my old Palm than my current Motorola Razr, but the Palm's gone and the Razr is in my hand. The improvements weren't worth the pocket overhead.
The same may be true with tablets, although the big issue here is different -- price.
Check out the new Motion Computing F5, which is certain to get a big push into the medical market. It's sleek, it's a true tablet, but it's also $3,500.
Add in the cost of a full medical software suite and you're talking big bucks. Some specialists (like my eye doctor) might be able to spring for that, but internists and pediatricians --- nope.
By contrast, check out the pricing on the iPhone bundle ClearHealth is pushing. The phone costs $599, and that price could be dropping fast. The software is all SaaS, a fixed monthly fee. And it's a phone.
There is a ton of development going on with mobile phones, ordinary phones on the patient side and more sophisticated devices like the iPhone on the other.
Data transmission costs are dropping thanks to the iPhone's success with data bundles. Competition is also coming to the space thanks to Apple's exclusive arrangement with AT&T. This has spurred Verizon and other competitors to open up to Google, LiMo devices and others.
So what if these new devices lack the bells-and-whistles of the tablet PC? Remember Dana's Iron Law of Laptops -- an ounce on the desk is a pound in my hand.
That goes double for the pocket.