Tablet PC slow pace: Who’s fault is it anyway?

Okay – this paragraph at the end of a review of the new Acer C200 is annoying

In summary, the C200 is a welcome breath of fresh air in a category which was supposed to be all about innovation – yet has become woefully stagnant due to the lack of software fully exploiting pen based input capabilities. Granted, it won’t run Doom IV, but at least future owners are sure to raise an eyebrow by the mention of it having 256 MB of VRAM.

The tablet pc BOF that I hosted last Tuesday night at PDC was jam packed. A large number of people from the Tablet PC Team were there as well as developers who are currently programming for tablets, developers who were “tablet-curious” and even someone from Motion – who has the best tablet out there (for non-developers).

There was a lot of discussion of the usual question – why is the tablet so slow to come to market. Developers are frustrated because we are hoping to make some money writing apps or consulting to companies that are writing apps. Manufacturers are frustrated, although I did explicitly ask the guy from Motion if they are satisfied and I think they are somewhat. They do look forward to the expansion of the market and the success of other manufacturers. The ability for manufacturers to make white box tablets can also change things dramatically.

I don’t think there was any one in the room that didn’t think that eventually a digitizer and stylus will just be part of a laptop and it won’t be a special thing – a Tablet PC – just a laptop again.

Koji Kato who is a PM on the Tablet Team brought up a really good point – maybe the real problem is that of expectations. Who set the expectation that Tablets had to explode on to the scene? (And stop comparing them to IPODs – that’s just not an, err, apple to apple (sorry couldn’t be helped) comparison.) There is a big worry that the media is drooling for it to fail – just because it will make a good story. So because it is not going fast, it’s a problem and then the blame game begins. It’s the manufacturer’s fault for not having cheap enough models. It’s Microsoft’s fault because, well just because it’s Microsoft. And it’s the developers fault because, as the journalist noted above, we aren’t writing enough apps.

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