Computer historian explains why Apple iPad is a fad or something

“Apple recently stated that it sold 15 million iPad tablet computers in 2010. With competition rising from the Google Android ecosystem, the upcoming BlackBerry Playbook, and surely from Microsoft, too, it’s easy to believe tablets are the future dominant form of mobile computing,” Evan Koblentz writes for Minyanville. “But you’d be wrong.”

“Tablets as we know them will remain hot for a couple of years, and then will fade away, forever marginalized into niche status,” Koblentz writes. “Price, size, and historic trends are the reasons why.”

“There are two ways tablet vendors can break their historic cycle of failure and keep the tablet experience alive. First, tablets’ best features such as multitouch screens could be incorporated into laptops with either fold-under or slider-style keyboards, resulting in a converged portable computer that some buyers may find more useful,” Koblentz writes. “Second, smartphones could be designed to unfold into tablets — the new dual-screen Kyocera Echo does just this– thereby retaining pocket size, smartphone price, and a more enjoyable viewing experience.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Unsurprisingly, historians are always looking backwards. This tends to produce some seriously stuck-in-the-box thinking. It also might explain why this article, published today, reads as if it’s years old. Koblentz’s big mistake is obvious: Using Microsoft’s and others’ impressive string of failures to predict the future of a different market created by Apple Inc.

Apple fully understands the history of tablet computing. That’s why they broke from it and are therefore not doomed to repeat it.

Mr. Koblentz, you’ve just been iCal’ed. We’ll return annually to revisit this article and see how it compares to reality. In the meantime, go get yourself an iPad, you sound like you’ve never touched one.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, right after unveiling iPad 2 on March 2, 2011:
I’ve said this before, but thought it was worth repeating: It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. That it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing.

And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.

And a lot of folks in this tablet market are rushing in and they’re looking at this as the next PC. The hardware and the software are done by different companies. And they’re talking about speeds and feeds just like they did with PCs.

And our experience and every bone in our body says that that is not the right approach to this. That these are post-PC devices that need to be even easier to use than a PC. That need to be even more intuitive than a PC. And where the software and the hardware and the applications need to intertwine in an even more seamless way than they do on a PC.

And we think we’re on the right track with this. We think we have the right architecture not just in silicon, but in the organization to build these kinds of products.

And so I think we stand a pretty good chance of being pretty competitive in this market. And I hope that what you’ve seen today gives you a good feel for that.


    1. Probably the only thing worse than an “analyst” predicting the future, is a “historian” trying to predict the future.

      A “convertible” tablet with a physical hideaway keyboard is what Microsoft has been trying to push for most of the last decade, until Apple showed the rest of the tech world how its done (again).

      1. I also have my doubts, which start with the track record of the person making the prediction.

        In going to the main article, I see the pretty photos of what’s called “Tablet Computers We Have Known — A Gallery”.

        The problem (and thus flaw) is that these were historical examples of early LAPTOPS. Oh yeah, they’re only 50% of the total PC market…definitely doomed.

        And the “historian” angle is incomplete because he didn’t even mention the Newton but once.


      2. On the contrary. A historian is possibly the best person to be predicting cultural change. Have you ever heard of the concept of history repeating? (no not just in the decksndrumsnrocknroll track)

    1. When tablets will fade away, it will be because Apple has come up with the next big thing.

      Also, I resent the author’s suggestion that price will be the reason for the upcoming decline he expects, thereby suggesting that Apple’s pricing is high. But he is wrong. It is the others that will be pricing themselves out of the market. Either that, or they will sell mediocre knock-offs.

      1. its pronounced MINIONville.
        Minion as in underling, or maybe paid tool.
        Paid tool seems to be appropriate, but the real mystery is who would pay for such brainless drivel?

  1. well put by macdaily news, I don’t agree with mr. Koblentz. It’s very improbable that tablets would fade in a future, if something they will like cellphones, u must have one. My father who is 67′ old school and doesn’t really know how to work with. Pc, find iPad to be his solution, not only because of how incredibly easy is to use but it’s lightweight as well. Trust me, this is way easier to use than a pc, and twice as convenient, certainly not the same, but I find that I can do 90% of the stuff I can do with a pc with my iPad. You should get one, and touch screen modes are tahr future if we ain’t there’d yet already… Btw this was posted with an iPad 3G on traffic back home. 🙂

  2. oh i LOVE this angle mainly because we are all going to live forever and there’s plenty of time for all of us to enjoy every technological advancement that will ever be created. Why I oughta!!!!!!!

  3. Sony created the Walkman and that sold 250MM
    Apple created the iPod and have sold over 300MM
    Apple created the iPhone and have sold 70MM to date
    Apple created the iPad and sold 15MM in the first year
    The iPad is easily more successful in it’s first year than any of the others.
    Clearly it is not a fad. It fits perfectly between full fledged laptops and smartphones.
    Others will copy but none will be as successful as Apple.

  4. “And nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices.”


    Apple really played up calling their products “Post-PC devices.”

    The problem I have with this, is that all of these so-called “Post-PC devices” require a PC to sync and update with.


    1. They require that now, but that could change with a software update. Furthermore, have you tried syncing 32 GB of data wirelessly !?

      These devices are still considered PC companion devices. It is too early in their lives to use them as full fledged computers. For one thing, there’s just not enough storage. And I don’t buy this cloud crap… I have 1 TB + of data on my computer, no cloud service or mobile device will ever be able to replace my needs in the near future.

  5. I don’t know why this reminds me of a Star Trek episode but does anyone recall the movie where they went back in time?

    I just recall Scottie sitting down in front of a desktop computer (I think it was a Mac) and saying something like, “computer” trying to get it to work. Then someone, I think it was Bones pointed out the mouse and Scottie grabbed the mouse and talked into it like a microphone, “computer!?”

    It still makes me laugh thinking about it, kind-of like this article. Everytime I read the headline I can’t help but laugh. Sure the world will change one day but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting around for the “fad” to end. Heck, Koblentz probably still has a typewriter in the closet.

      1. Cubert,

        That’s right it was one of the movies. Really, it was Star Trek 3? I think my age is showing and now that I think about it, I went to the premier of the original Star Wars.

        Oh Shit, I’m getting old.

        1. Yeah, I saw it when it was released at Grauman’s Chinese. The line was around the block, and down the block. Stood in line for three hours. Now those were the days. Hey you kids, get off my lawn! Sheesh, did I really write that?

      2. No it was Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, directed by Leonard Nimoy about the Humpback Whales and Alien Probe (aliens must be sick of constant “probe” references). It also had the other oft quoted line about transparent aluminum. Amazing how Scottie whipped up 3D graphics on a 1985 era Mac.

        1. You want old? I saw the Lone Ranger at the Faribault County Fair back in the mid-fifties. He had trigger plus the character who played his nephew Dan and his horse Victor. Good old Clayton Moore. I think he was murdered.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.