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The tablet innovation race

Three commented examples of what Tablet Computers could look like in the near future.

Author: Christophe Stoll
Date: 20. December 2009

So it looks like 2010 will be the year of Tablet Computers and E-Readers. The rumors about an upcoming new Apple device keep on spreading, large publishing houses are already presenting concepts and prototypes. Whenever and whatever exactly happens, it will definitely speed up the process of mobile overtaking desktop usage.

We have compiled and commented three promising concepts.

Sports Illustrated – Tablet Demo 1.5
Interesting is the form of video presentation here: two rather attached looking arms and hands are pointing to and moving across the device in a rather Monty Pythonesque fashion. But nevertheless, it is fascinating how detailed and apparently quite elaborated Time Warner’s Time Inc., the largest US magazine publisher, presents a future idea. Or is it rather the innovation they are counting on to battle decreasing sales numbers and ad revenues? Since there is evidence that five publishers such as Time, News Corp. and Condé Nast etc. are joining forces to build a digital storefront for their print titles, it looks like these guys are trying really hard to have some ideas visualized and business models thought through to create some sort of negotiating basis for talking to Apple about their Tablet Computer plans (and yeah, Apple’s known for rather restrictive and uncompromising business deals, see the iPhone).

This is the most designerly and also the best approach I have seen yet. In cooperation with London-based design firm Berg, publishing house Bonnier‘s R&D department released a conceptual video last week that simply blew my mind. It’s not just what they present, but also the way they do (showing interactions in real life context, some of their design ideas seemingly projected on a table – to name two highlights). Just watch these 8 mind-blowing minutes of internet video below and you’ll see what I mean – I’m confident:

Microsoft Courier
The Microsoft Courier is less a publishing platform, but more aimed to personal information management. As always, Microsoft is quite good in packaging and selling an idea – the flow and the mixing of finger and stylus touch interaction looks quite appetizing. The question remains: will this demo ever be turned into a real great product? At least, indications are spawning. And if so, will it fly or will it again suffer from Microsoft’s innovation hex that had been put on them some years ago (remember Zune, the iPod killer)?

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Oh, there are 7 comments so far

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by preciousforever: yeah, it’s Sunday! the tablet innovation race

    uberVU - social comments on 20. December 2009
  2. So now this is a semi-commoditization of touch screen, products hitting main stream and the millions of consumers awaiting a more innovative way to get a digitized platform for day to day newspapers and magazine;
    Come to think about it, this area in particular has lacked innovation in the final presentation part – i.e. replacement of the paper form publications – thou you will still find many vowing to be loyal to reading conventional paper book at a fireplace, – we will convert those guys later;
    Save the environment campers do not be so happy about saving few trees cause these gadgets are not bio-degradable and would eventually cause more damage to the environment than chopping few trees;
    I am just worried about which one to choose, obviously these gadget will not talk to each other, i.e. you buy a Sports Illustrated e-reader that’s made exclusively for Sports Illustrated but you cannot read “I am almost certain” books made for Kindle or Nook or Sony or whatever brand they have out there;
    And then why not port it to a tablet PC? Here is the thing if “touch Screen” technology becomes commoditized i.e. someone finds a cheap way to manufacture it than the next big thing is it will hit tablet PC and than what will be the fate of all of these fancy gadgets? So I would rather wait till that happens and I predict that the technology is commoditized within 1 or 2 years. So this will also give time to these companies – or other companies looking for an innovative products to sell – to start developing ways where I can read all my favorite e-books from a single gadget;

    Fathi M. Alwosaibi on 21. December 2009
  3. I agree, but it sure hasn’t been a terribly impressive race so far — and worse, if Apple in fact releases a tablet end of January, we may see what happened with iPhone, where all developers migrate to one platform. ;)

    I know what I want — commercial potential be damned:
    * Lightweight, affordable tablet
    * Multitouch control
    * Open development
    * Video output
    * (ideally) USB

    Think about it: with that setup, you’d have a portable rig you could use for live performance. In fact, so long as it supported open development, I think we could soon have something like Pd running on it, but with a shiny multitouch front-end for performance. :)

    Peter Kirn on 1. January 2010
  4. Thanks for the comments! I actually started writing a follow-up post regarding tablets which has a more critical undertone and these are aspects I didn’t think of really but will think about further.

    It’s a really double edged topic, I think. On one hand I can go very euphoric about new forms of presentation and interaction (in terms of supposable mainstream adoption), like getting rid of mice and keyboards etc, commoditization of touch screens and *especially* all this opening up broad roads for new ideas and inventions that go a lot further. But then again, there’s always an evil side waiting around the corner – energy consumption, where do all these things go when they’re broken, closed vs. open source, and these new devices again being mainly (if not only) available to a privileged population as “gadgets” (another word for things we don’t need, but always find good reasons why it’s OK to get them regardless and why utility is overrated anyways).

    Well, i’ll stop and continue with that other post soon :)

    Christophe Stoll on 2. January 2010
  5. [...] days ago, I wrote a post compiling some concept videos for Tablet Computing I found interesting and exciting. Still, I can [...]

    Tablet Innovation Race II | precious forever on 3. January 2010
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