March 4, 2013

Is smaller better?

The 1980s was the beginning of the PC revolution, and it really set the tone for the direction of nearly everything we do today. The early PC was a machine that performed millions of calculations in milliseconds, stored oodles of records in a database, and ran applications that made complex tasks easier. As cool as this was, the ante was upped by the introduction of the World Wide Web. In addition to the advanced computing the PC offered the Internet tied together information and people across the globe for access through a simple "browser" application.

The next big advancement in the technology revolution was the introduction of the smartphone which gave us freedom in how we placed and received calls. Then text messaging began to supersede the call as the conduit of conversations on those devices. Though I marvel at kids who will have a 30 minutes text message exchange that could have been accomplished with a two minute phone call, but maybe that's the old man in me! If there's one thing that is constant, it's change especially when it comes to technology.

It almost should have been predestined that the next big thing would be somewhat of a mash up between the PC and the smartphone. Thus, the tablet was born. It wasn't quite that easy of course, because the early attempts at tablet computing were less successful than hoped. However, the original personal computer innovator, Apple, changed all that with the innovative and user-friendly iPad. While the earlier technologies discussed here were mostly adopted commercially before finding legs in the consumer space, the iPad was nearly the opposite. Low price points and great marketing campaigns helped the iPad take off like a rocket ship for the average user. You could read books on it, play games, browse the Web, and answer emails all on a slim, easy to carry package.

As is the way in the business world, competition started to take aim at the market. Soon, manufacturers were building new tablet hardware and going to Apple's biggest rivals Google and Microsoft to build operating systems to run them. The three biggest names we will look at this month for comparison are the iPad (now fourth generation), the Google Nexus 10, and the Microsoft Surface. Rest assured that while there are stark differences in each, the cumulative effect is that they will all find a place in the landscape forever. Well, at least until someone comes up with the next new must have big thing.

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