It’s about processing
Rennee Oricchio had an interesting piece over at Inc. Com on “Why Netbooks Are Doomed.” It was a good piece of writing but I think her analysis should have gone a bit deeper. She essentially breaks down the failure of the netbook because it was neither really good at creating content or consuming content. She pits the desktop and laptop in one corner as content creation devices and the tablet and smartphone in another corner as content consumption devices. What I think she misses is that the advantage of computers (all of these devices are computers) is not creation or consumption but processing. The power of excel is not that I can enter numbers but that with a few clicks I can generate a pareto of my data or a set of meaningful statistics. This quick analysis supports decision making. Too much of the discussion has been centered around media. Taking pictures, and magazine subscriptions, have been prominent in the discussion. The real innovation with tablets (and let’s be honest the iPad is the only real player in this game right now) is the user interface and the form factor. It has been astonishing to me that no one is really talking about this. This is the biggest change in computing since the advent of the GUI and the mouse.
Here is where this all comes together. Visual information is denser. Pictures and visual representation communicate more, faster than text or numbers. Relationships between and among things are much better seen than explained. I am continually reminded of the scenes from Minority Report when Tom Cruise’s character solves a crime with his huge touch interface computer. We are a few steps closer to this becoming a reality with the iPad.