The Gilbane Advisor

Curated content for content, computing, and digital experience professionsals

Tag: iPad

The future of tablets

[Note: This was posted first on May 6, 2014, so is obviously a bit dated. I’m re-posting here because I want to test the new Medium API, and to encourage me to write more about tablets given Microsoft’s new Surface Book.]

The future of tablets isn’t what analysts thought a year ago, or even last fall

The market for PCs continues to decline (but at a slowing rate: IDCGartner), yet tablet growth is also slowing forcing many analysts to scale back their forecasts. Smartphone growth is slowing as well.

There is a lot of discussion, mainly from an investor point of view about why: saturation, price points, supplier market share, etc., that are relevant for both business and consumer markets. Recently the focus has been on iPads because of Apple‘s earnings call but the trend is not limited to Apple.

Why aren’t tablets taking more share away from PCs?

Given the phenomenal growth of tablets the last few years, their computing power, and the large overlap of general use cases shared with PCs (email, browsing) it did seem that tablets were on track replace PCs in large numbers. But the use case overlap was not large enough to support the forecasts. Tablets are tweeners, fighting for space between the superior communications of smartphones and greater productivity of PCs. Being in the middle is not normally a desirable spot for a product, but tablets excel at information and entertainment consumption and this middle is a pretty big and happy place to be.

What do we use PCs for? For years we have been using PCs for some combination of productivity, information / entertainment consumption, and communication. PCs were largely designed and most useful for productivity, whether business or personal, and that’s why we bought them. As PCs evolved and became capable and appealing for information/entertainment consumption and communication we bought more of them. And at some point whatever motivated us to buy a PC, our actual use of them flipped – we now spend a higher percentage of time using our PCs for information / entertainment consumption and communication than we do for productivity. And of course this is the domain of tablets and why they have taken as much of the PC market as they have.

But tablets are simply not as good as PCs for a large number of productivity applications. Until they are this will act as a governor on tablet growth and allow for a shrinking but still large market for PCs.

In The iPad Is a Tease Jean-Louis Gassée points out that:

So far, Apple’s bet has been to keep the iPad simple, rigidly so perhaps, rather than creating a neither-nor product: No longer charmingly simple, but not powerful enough for real productivity tasks. But if the iPad wants to cannibalize more of the PC market, it will have to remove a few walls.

I would say Gassée’s post is from the point of view of a user who would like to replace his PC with an iPad but can’t, that this is a larger cohort than enterprise users or even power users, and that this is the best way to think about the productivity penalty portion of slowing iPad sales.

What would make a significant dent in the iPad’s productivity penalty? Microsoft Office support alone is necessary but not sufficient. A better solution for text entry than accessory keyboards, smooth and rapid app switching, and easy file access would each make a big difference. See below for links to other thoughts.

There is also a maddening and ironic side effect of using iPads for industry applications where they are productivity enhancers. For example, I used to be able to choose between an iPad (mostly research and entertainment) and a laptop (mostly work) for most trips, but a couple of my current projects include working with apps that only run on the iPad. I can’t be productive without having both an iPad and a laptop. Even in the office I often need both within reach. Unfortunately this situation is likely to get worse as more iOS, (and Android!) productivity apps appear.

Watch out for smartphones

Benedict Evans suggested another avenue for inquiry in a tweet:

.@asymco @gassee posit: slow iPad sales are worse news for the PC market: implies phones can take the greater share of PC use cases

— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 21, 2014

I don’t know Benedict, but I picture him smiling devilishly as he composed that tweet. As well he should have.

The more types of computing devices there are the more complicated figuring out use case fit is going to be.

The future of tablets

The future of tablets seems promising in the near term since neither PCs nor smartphones can match their information and entertainment consumption experience and tablets will get better at aiding productivity. The better they get the more market share they’ll take. And of course we haven’t seen all the new industry apps where the tablet form factor and interface is a net productivity advantage.

On the other hand, the right kind of user interface – perhaps a high resolution holographic interface not dependent on form factors for projection – would free us from our quaint categories of PCs, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, glasses, and be truly disruptive. Once computing power and user interfaces become independent of physical size all bets are off.

Further reading on iPad growth:

The iPad’s Curse — Ben Bajarin

iPads and Tablet Growth – Benedict Evans

Don’t Give up on the iPad – Ben Thompson

How Apple Could Continue to Own the Enterprise Tablet Market — Tim Bajarin

The Astonishing, Disappointing iPad – MG Siegler

The future of tablets

The future of tablets isn’t what analysts thought a year ago, or even last fall.

The market for PCs continues to decline (but at a slowing rate: IDC, Gartner), yet tablet growth is also slowing forcing many analysts to scale back their forecasts. Smartphone growth is slowing as well.

There is a lot of discussion, mainly from an investor point of view about why: saturation, price points, supplier market share, etc., that are relevant for both business and consumer markets. Recently the focus has been on iPads because of Apple‘s earnings call but the trend is not limited to Apple.

Why aren’t tablets taking more share away from PCs?

Given the phenomenal growth of tablets the last few years, their computing power, and the large overlap of general use cases shared with PCs (email, browsing) it did seem that tablets were on track replace PCs in large numbers. But the use case overlap was not large enough to support the forecasts. Tablets are tweeners, fighting for space between the superior communications of smartphones and greater productivity of PCs. Being in the middle is not normally a desirable spot for a product, but tablets excel at information and entertainment consumption and this middle is a pretty big and happy place to be.

What do we use PCs for? For years we have been using PCs for some combination of productivity, information / entertainment consumption, and communication. PCs were largely designed and most useful for productivity, whether business or personal, and that’s why we bought them. As PCs evolved and became capable and appealing for information/entertainment consumption and communication we bought more of them. And at some point whatever motivated us to buy a PC, our actual use of them flipped – we now spend a higher percentage of time using our PCs for information / entertainment consumption and communication than we do for productivity. And of course this is the domain of tablets and why they have taken as much of the PC market as they have.

But tablets are simply not as good as PCs for a large number of productivity applications. Until they are this will act as a governor on tablet growth and allow for a shrinking but still large market for PCs.

In The iPad Is a Tease Jean-Louis Gassée points out that:

So far, Apple’s bet has been to keep the iPad simple, rigidly so perhaps, rather than creating a neither-nor product: No longer charmingly simple, but not powerful enough for real productivity tasks. But if the iPad wants to cannibalize more of the PC market, it will have to remove a few walls.

I would say Gassée’s post is from the point of view of a user who would like to replace his PC with an iPad but can’t, that this is a larger cohort than enterprise users or even power users, and that this is the best way to think about the productivity penalty portion of slowing iPad sales.

What would make a significant dent in the iPad’s productivity penalty? Microsoft Office support alone is necessary but not sufficient. A better solution for text entry than accessory keyboards, smooth and rapid app switching, and easy file access would each make a big difference. See below for links to other thoughts.

There is also a maddening and ironic side effect of using iPads for industry applications where they are productivity enhancers. For example, I used to be able to choose between an iPad (mostly research and entertainment) and a laptop (mostly work) for most trips, but a couple of my current projects include working with apps that only run on the iPad. I can’t be productive without having both an iPad and a laptop. Even in the office I often need both within reach. Unfortunately this situation is likely to get worse as more iOS, (and Android!) productivity apps appear.

Watch out for smartphones

Benedict Evans suggested another avenue for inquiry in a tweet:

.@asymco @gassee posit: slow iPad sales are worse news for the PC market: implies phones can take the greater share of PC use cases

— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) April 21, 2014

I don’t know Benedict, but I picture him smiling devilishly as he composed that tweet. As well he should have.

The more types of computing devices there are the more complicated figuring out use case fit is going to be.

The future of tablets

The future of tablets seems promising in the near term since neither PCs nor smartphones can match their information and entertainment consumption experience and tablets will get better at aiding productivity. The better they get the more market share they’ll take. And of course we haven’t seen all the new industry apps where the tablet form factor and interface is a net productivity advantage.

On the other hand, the right kind of user interface – perhaps a high resolution holographic interface not dependent on form factors for projection – would free us from our quaint categories of PCs, tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, glasses, and be truly disruptive. Once computing power and user interfaces become independent of physical size all bets are off.

Further reading on iPad growth:

The iPad’s Curse — Ben Bajarin

iPads and Tablet Growth – Benedict Evans

Don’t Give up on the iPad – Ben Thompson

How Apple Could Continue to Own the Enterprise Tablet Market — Tim Bajarin

The Astonishing, Disappointing iPad – MG Siegler

 

SpringCM Launches New Version with Eye on Mobility, Collaboration

SpringCM announced the latest release of its cloud enterprise content management platform. This latest release features new case management capabilities, helps SpringCM customers deliver more consistent execution, enhance team productivity and increase management visibility of key business processes. In addition, mobile support for iPad uses intuitive-gesture interface, but also gives access to cloud capabilities such as full-text search of corporate-content repositories. Other highlights include: Enhances quality-of-service and compliance with defined rules; Provides a status view to all case participants to improve team and customer communication; Faster responsiveness to objectives and process changes; Enables more effective internal collaboration on cases; Improves communication with customers and other service requesters; and it requires minimal IT resources. http://www.springcm.com/

Adobe Releases Digital Publishing Suite

Adobe has released a series of tools designed to expedite digital publishing across various platforms. Digital Publishing Suite allows publishers to upload articles directly from InDesign CS5, and supports PDF and HTML5. The software can run on RIM’s PlayBook, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Apple’s iPad and forthcoming Android platforms. The software allows dynamic user control of online publications, and readers are able to resize pages and move content around to suit their needs. Graphics, video and audio content can be built into the publications. The full version of Digital Publishing Suite will be available next year for a $699 licence fee, but beta code is now available from Adobe. http://www.adobe.com/

Free Mac Application for Reading Kindle Books Now Available

Amazon.com, Inc. announced “Kindle for Mac,” a free application that lets readers around the world read Kindle books on their Mac computers. The U.S. Kindle Store currently offers over 450,000 books, including New Releases and 102 of the New York Times Bestsellers. Kindle books can now be read on the Kindle, Kindle DX, iPhone, iPod touch, BlackBerry, PC and Mac, and soon the iPad. Kindle for Mac features Amazon’s Whispersync technology which saves and synchronizes bookmarks and last page read across devices. With Kindle for Mac, readers can take advantage of the following features: Purchase, download, and read the many Kindle format books available; Access their library of previously purchased Kindle books stored on Amazon’s servers for free; Choose from 10 different font sizes and adjust words per line; Add and automatically synchronize bookmarks and last page read; View notes and highlights marked on Kindle, Kindle DX, and Kindle for iPhone; & Read books in full color including children’s books, cookbooks, travel books and textbooks. Several features will be added to the Kindle for Mac app in the near future, including full text search and the ability to create and edit notes and highlights. Kindle for Mac is available to customers around the world as a free download. http://www.amazon.com/kindleformac

Response to iPad Release: Publishers, Take a Deep Breath

Not surprisingly, there’s been a lot of ink spilt on the iPad, from the numerous name-related jokes, to serious considerations, both positive and negative.  I’ve been letting the iPAD news kick about for a while, before adding my two cents.

On the thoughtful side of iPAD-related commentary, as good an example as, any comes from Samir Kakar, CTO, Aptara Corporation, a fellow that knows a thing or two, or million, about ebooks, digital publishing processes, and content formats.

Samir points to some interesting strengths of the iPAD, including its use of the ePub format, even while rightly arguing that “the ePub standard will likely need to be updated to allow publishers to create more detailed layouts and attach various types of multimedia supported by the iPad.” Other important characteristics include the color screen, Apple’s DRM, and distribution and ecommerce platform initiatives like Apple’s iBookstore.

A lot of people are enthusiastic, and especially among the ebook crowd, since Apple comes in as a major play, and, hey, as usual, another of Steve Jobs’ good-looking babies.

But of course, the immediate impact the iPAD will have for book publishers will be modest, at least in comparison to these same publishers’ need to get their publishing processes in order. From the perspective of making money from digital content, publishers need to keep their focus on enriching content with meta-data and striving for one-source/many format publishing. This alone should cause book publishers to take a deep breath or two.

As to iPAD, while I may be wrong in my complaint, at least I’m consistent: As I’ve earlier argued about Kindle being a needlessly restricted device , I’m more annoyed when it comes to iPAD.  Why there’s no voice telephone option—despite the presence of the 3G cell phone signal I/O—simply flummoxes me. Why the iPAD isn’t multi-tasking—such as a MP3/iTunes player, while, say, perusing the Web or epublication—leaves me scratching my head.

But then again, I haven’t seen a compelling enough argument for dedicated ereaders that erase my reservations about too-high prices for artificially constrained communication devices.  Yes, people say that the Kindle is too big to be used conveniently as a telephone, and, obviously, the size/portability questions grow more as the size does, as with the iPAD.

But then, just what am I going to do with all those iPAD shoulder holsters I’ve been making in my basement over the long winter?

I guess I better concentrate on more useful projects, like the upcoming report from the Gilbane Publishing Practice, A Blueprint for Book Publishing Transformation: Seven Essential Systems to Re-Invent Publishing.  For more information about this, contact me or Ralph Marto.

How will the Apple iPad cause headaches for creators of multilingual content?

Apple recently unveiled its new iPad device with a flourish of global PR. iPads will go on sale in the U.S. around the end of March this year, and in other countries in the following months. Press and analysts have had a field day praising and condemning the iPad’s capabilities and features, predicting (depending on who you listen to) that the device will be either a terrible flop or another runaway success for Apple.

My analysis predicts that Apple will sell millions of units of its new “universal media device,” as analyst Ned May of Outsell Inc. describes it, but Apple’s success is not my subject today. Instead, it’s a warning: People who generate content for global markets need to know how the iPad might make their work more difficult.

The problem is caused by a technical gap the new iPad shares with its older siblings, the iPhone and the iPod touch. None of them can use Adobe Flash. (For more on Apple’s deliberate omission of Flash and its consequences, see this New York Times story and this one.)

Thousands of global businesses use Flash movies with captions or voiceover narration as quick, relatively low-cost ways to present marketing videos and user guides over the Web to multilingual audiences. For these businesses and the agencies that work with them, the Flash gap is a growing problem. Instead of Flash movies, millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users see blank white spaces. The iPad boasts a larger screen, with display capabilities that will be attractive for business tasks. But all those millions of Flash animations and interviews and guides and other videos will be invisible. Just blank white spaces, no matter what language you speak. That is the Flash gap, which the iPad will make worse.

The alternative is to deliver videos using HTML5. But not all web browsers work with HTML5. Neither do all devices, especially mobile devices. This means Web video providers need to research what specific devices their target audiences use, and what video technology those devices will support.

So if you provide multilingual video content, you have one more detail to pay attention to when you plan your schedules and budget.

Atex Announces Support for e-Reader Publishing

Atex announced their content management system, atex content, supports direct publication to e-readers and tablet devices. Media companies can capitalize on these technologies to publish content without custom development. The functionality could also allow publishers to develop new digital revenue streams while increasing the level of customer interaction. As e-reader demand is expected to increase as the technology develops, consumers will require more of their content to be delivered digitally. Atex content could help media companies take advantage of this trend with functionality to streamline digital content publishing. Whether it’s from print or the Web, editors can take content and reuse it in digital devices without needing additional staff or hardware. Instead of relying on a few products, e-readers could help media companies diversify what they provide to consumers. Depending on the model used, a media company will be able to track the content customers like most and allow readers to leave comments and answer poll questions. These social features should help publishers build tighter relationships with their readers and understand what content will retain their interest. www.atex.com