Since the iPad launched and set the benchmark for portable touchscreen devices, no other manufacturer has come close to replicating its success. The combination of design, performance and developer support has made this the benchmark for what Steve Jobs calls the “Post-PC” era. This year, the Post-PC era will be more than a solely Apple event, with many PC manufacturers lining up to introduce their own tablet.
Steve Jobs has made it very clear that he thinks the 7″ tablet segment is doomed to fail. After seeing some of the new tablet offerings from traditional PC manufacturers, there will be some compelling reasons to consider one. Here are some of the reasons I think the 7″ tablet market will flourish in what will be a year full of innovation.
I’ve handled the Telstra T-Tab, the Viewsonic Viewpad7 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and they all have one thing common – they’re light and fit very easily in one hand. I use my iPad nearly everyday, and it’s usually on the couch, with the iPad lying on the armrest. But I have a confession to make: I have sustained minor facial injuries from lying in bed, head on the pillow holding the iPad up while reading and dozing off. Come on, admit it, you’ve done the same, right?
7″ tablets weigh much less, and the screen real estate is very different to a 10″ screen, but with that comes a lightness and size that make it much more attractive to take with you, particularly on public transport. It does feel much more like a small novel you’re holding, and if you’re using it as an e-reader, you can change the font size to suit your eyesight.
This may be a minor point, but 7″ tablets are much more inconspicuous. You could use one on a train or bus and not attract attention to yourself. Whip out a new iPad 2 and you’ll be forced to explain and demonstrate the device to at least one fellow passenger. Not a bad thing if you’re an extrovert and like showing off your tech gear, but it might be an issue if you just want to use it to catch up on news, play a quick game, read a book or browse the net – with no interruptions.
I have mentioned it before, but I think the tablet market is divided into two distinct categories – portability and mobility. 10″ screens are great used around the house and office space, connected to wi-fi, and used for rich content consumption, even some creation, especially with the editing and production apps now available. 7″ tablets are the perfect form factor for on-the-go use, to slip into a purse or small bag, and used on a much more casual basis. They suit users who want a subtle mobile device as opposed to a full blown tablet.
Below are two unboxing videos we produced for Bing Lee for 7″ tablets and you’ll see what I mean by fitting in one hand. It’s a category that will occupy a smaller share of the overall tablet market, but will still exist to meet the needs of a particular segment.
Samsung Galaxy Tab Unboxing:
Viewsonic Viewpad7 Unboxing: