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Innovation

Why 2010 will be the year of the tablet

While Amazon sold the Kindle as a book substitute, it's the form factor that's important. There are a host of other computer applications that can be drawn to the form factor, now that it and the price point are established.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

The Amazon Kindle 2.

After a decade of trial-and-error by vendors large and small, Amazon finally cracked the tablet code last year with the Kindle 2 (right), which sold like hotcakes this Christmas and caused an earthquake in the book business that is just starting to be felt.

The Kindle had these important features that will be copied ad nauseum this spring:

  • It's small, not the 8 1/2 x 11 form factor that was sold until recently but closer in size to a trade hardback, with a screen the size of a paperback.
  • It has a business model, in books. You can now feel free to add others.
  • It was priced right, at $300. This is a price point Apple pioneered with the iPod.

While Amazon sold the Kindle as a book substitute, it's the form factor that's important. There are a host of other computer applications that can be drawn to the form factor, now that it and the price point are established.

  • FreeScale, the Motorola spin-off, is trotting out its own $200 color tablet, based on Google's Android operating system. (I personally think Chromium is a better bet long-term.)
  • Rumors of a January 26 announcement from Apple are flying, with Dell and Microsoft expected to jump in before that date.

What makes the tablet form factor so exciting, now that Amazon has defined its size, shape, price and base business model, are the feature battles sure to come.

Is it really just a book? Isn't it a PC too? A game machine? A video player? An Internet client? A phone? All these at once, and more?

This is the kind of thing that gets techies' juices going, but let's not forget that it all started with Amazon, and that they will be a player here until and unless they are dethroned by someone offering something better, for less.

Now let's have some fun.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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