Gilbane Conferences & Advisor

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Tag: tablets

The future of tablets

[Note: This was posted elsewhere 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

New posts on embedded search and mobile development

Check out two new posts this week on the Bluebill blog, one from Lynda on Embedded Search in the Enterprise, and one from Frank on Time to Re-check Your Mobile Development Strategy.

Did you know there is a mobile track at Gilbane Boston?

We’ve been adding content about mobile app development and publishing for a couple of years. We will be adding a full track threaded through the entire conference to our next event, but this year’s Gilbane Boston has quite a few sessions covering aspects of mobile development and content management relevant to Web, marketing/business, IT strategists, and developers.

In fact, we have a sort of a stealth mobile track – stealth, because the sessions are spread out across other tracks. To make it easier to plan schedules for those of you specifically interested in doing more with smartphones and tablets, below are five sessions that are the most directly relevant to mobile. There are other sessions that also cover mobile topics, so be sure to check the overall conference at-a-glance schedule and session descriptions.

Stealth Mobile Track:

T1: Mobile Development: App, Mobile Web, or Hybrid?

Wednesday, November 30, 1:30 – 2:30

You know mobile is becoming the dominant channel, but of course it is actually multiple channels – multiple devices with multiple APIs, form factors, interfaces and capabilities. Do you optimize for each device? Do you try and build a mobile web application? Do you mix it up with a little bit of both? This session will help you understand the pros and cons of different approaches.

Moderator: Jon Marks, Co-founder, Kaldor Product Development Group

Jon Marks, Co-founder, Kaldor Product Development Group

Introduction

Ashley Streb, 
Vice President, Technology, Brightcove

Hybrid Position


Stefan Andreasen, 
CTO Kapow

Browser Position


Philip Ramsey
, Manager, Technical Design, BNA

App Position

P2. iPad Publishing and UI Design


Wednesday, November 30, 2:40 – 4:00

With smartphones and tablets exploding in usage, publishers are racing to deliver content to new types of users who are expecting rich, interactive experiences. Yet publishers are often dependent on third parties who can create these apps for them. This session delves into how some of the standard publishing apps work, and how developers create some of the more advanced features that users are demanding.

Moderator: Ned May, Vice President & Lead Analyst, Outsell

Jim Nasr
, CEO, Armedia


Best Practices for Developing Content Rich Applications for the iPad

Michael Mahoney, 
Senior User Experience Specialist, Microlink


Information as Design 

T3. Is HTML5 the Future – If so, When?

Wednesday, November 30, 4:00 – 5:00

HTML5 enjoys widespread partial support. That is, the major browsers support some HTML5 functionality, and Mozilla, Google, Microsoft, and Apple support it politically. HTML5 promises lots of important new capabilities, but it is an ongoing development is scheduled to become a W3C recommendation in 2014. Many organizations are already using HTML5 for app development, but should they? Is it too soon?

Moderator: Richard Rubin, Principal Consultant, Professional Services, Innodata Isogen

Lubor Ptacek
, VP, Strategic Marketing & GM, Microsoft Solutions Group, Open Text

Phillip Hyun, 
CTO, EndPlay

E5. Thinking Beyond the Website – Mobile and Other Channels Deserve Your Attention Too


Thursday, December 1, 9:40 – 10:40

As phones and other mobile devices get “smarter”, so must marketers get smarter about their multi-channel strategies. It used to be acceptable for brands to focus on their desktop browser experience, and then, at some point, dumb them down by removing flash, videos, and all the other extras so that prospective customers could view the website on their phones. But this strategy is no longer viable. The Splinternet Age brings not only smart phones, but also tablets, mobile applications, social sites, and wifi-ready televisions just to name a few. As more and more consumers seek to experience your brand through these mediums, having a strong multi-channel strategy is essential.

Moderator: Scott Liewehr, Senior Consultant, Web Content Management, Outsell’s Gilbane Services



Arje Cahn
, CTO, Hippo

Tom Wentworth, 
CMO, Ektron


New Reality – Mobile First


Michael Assad
, Co-founder & CEO, Agility


Content Management for Digital Marketing: Thinking Beyond the Website

The day before the main conference we also have a pre-conference workshop covering important issues for mobile customer engagement:

Workshop B: Integrating Website and Mobile Strategy for Consistent Customer Engagement

Wednesday, November 29, 9:00 – 12:00

You’ve heard all the talk about web engagement management. You’ve read about web and content optimization for contextual consumption. You may even have preached to others about the rise of mobile-, social-, and personal-ization. We suppose you could even be doing some of these successfully, but we doubt it. These are just a few a few of the sexiest, most contemporary practices that everyone likes to talk about but no one is really doing… but they should. 

In this workshop, renowned author and digital marketing expert Robert Rose teams up with industry analyst and web content management expert Scott Liewehr to teach you how to realize true web engagement across web and mobile channels for your organization. Robert and Scott will teach attendees how to integrate content optimization into the marketing process by pragmatically focusing on three of the primary aspects of web engagement: testing, targeting and contextual design. The workshop walk attendees through a step-by-step approach to each practice, focusing on both the marketing process implications as well as the implementation and operationalization aspects. Web engagement management is more process than technology, so while you may not be able to buy it in a box, you can learn an awful lot about how to implement it in three entertaining, fun-filled and educational hours.

 Attendees will also receive Robert’s brand new book, co-authored with Joe Pulizzi: Managing Content Marketing: The Real-World Guide for Creating Passionate Subscribers to Your Brand.

Instructors: Scott Liewehr, Lead Analyst WCM, Outsell Gilbane, and Rob Rose, Chief Troublemaker, Big Blue Moose

Register for the conference, workshop, or both (speaking of mobile … note a Conference Plus registration includes the Workshop and also a new Kindle Fire tablet.

Rumor: Amazon to Release Tablet

Amazon plans to release a tablet computer by October, people familiar with the matter said according to the Wall Street Journal. While Amazon has long offered digital content on its website, it’s hardware focus has been content-limited Kindle eReaders. As Amazon attempts to enter streaming video and other “richer” media markets, it sounds logical that they start selling their own hardware which can support and tie-in with these services (as they had done with the Kindle). The details of the Amazon tablet still remain vague before it’s official announcement, but it is expected to run on the Android OS and is not expected to have features such as a camera. http://www.amazon.com/

Enterprise Edition of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite Now Available

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced the immediate availability of the Enterprise Edition of Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, a set of hosted software services and viewer technology to create, distribute, monetize and analyze digital magazines, newspapers and publications. With output aimed at Android tablets, RIM PlayBook, and iOS tablet devices, the Enterprise Edition is designed for large publishers to implement a custom tablet publishing solution without disrupting existing processes and infrastructure. Today’s news follows the announcement that Adobe Digital Publishing Suite will support both Apple App Store Subscriptions and Google One Pass for magazine and newspaper publishers. http://www.adobe.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/

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.