Tablet Devices Replacing the Laptop Computer

Tablet Devices Replace the Latop Computer

Tablet Computers: Will They Forever Change the Way We Interact with Information?

In a dynamic world, technology is the key to evolution. Despite the creation of numerous gadgets, the computer remains the most popular device due to its role and functionality in both professional as well as leisure activities. Computers have suffered a tremendous process of evolution from the massive ENIAC to the small tablet. The aim of this research endeavor is that of identifying the ability of tablet computers to radically change the means in which information is managed. Specifically, the main research question is that of the ability of tablet computers to fully replace traditional computers. Several research questions have as such been developed, namely:

Will tablet devices replace the need for laptop computers?

Will tablet computers make eBook readers obsolete?

What impact will tablet devices have on the news paper and publishing industries?

4. Will environmental green initiatives help catapult the use of tablet computers in corporations as alternatives to print and document production?

5. Is Apple’s existing Ecosystem of iTunes Music, Movies, TV Shows, Applications, and new Book store the winning strategy for putting a tablet device in every consumer’s hand?

It will be the scope of the following pages to answer the above posed questions. The starting point in finding the answers is constituted by an introduction to table computers, mainly in terms of their definition, history and current landscape. As this stage is completed, the paper moves on to the presentation of the functionalities of tablet computers. In order to better understand them, it is necessary and useful to compare the tablet computers against the traditional computers.

The next step is constituted by the analysis of tablet computers through the lenses of the populations most likely to use them. In other words, use cases would be developed for two major categories of consumers — individuals who use the tablet computers for personal purposes and individuals and groups who would use the tablet computer for professional purposes. The personal purposes include education, personal productivity, gaming, reading or entertainment. The business purposes integrate activities in the fields of business productivity, organization and reading, paper elimination, meeting management, project management and/or tracking, mobility and/or device consolidation or remote access. The following endeavor would be completed in terms of justifying the use of tablet computers through the lenses of three categories of users — students, home users and business professionals.

In order for the analysis of the tablet computers to be complete, it is necessary to integrate it in the context of the modern age of the mobile internet. From this standpoint, three features would be assessed — tablets, telephones and other gadgets. Additionally, the industry would be presented in respect to the computer companies, the mobile telephone manufacturers, the vendors of operating systems and the gadget companies. All the above reviewed elements help form conclusions over the “consumerization” of technology through elements such as ease of use or a human oriented design. Finally, the paper comes to an end with a section on concluding remarks which restates the most important findings of the research process. The final chapter also presents the significance of the study.

2. Introduction

It is beyond any doubt that technology has generated the most important innovations of the past century. In recent years, the technological developments have come to impact all aspects of the every day life and in the developed economies, populations are dependent on technology. It is present in all activities, from the preparation of a meal to the completion of the professional tasks. Technology is in the military, in national defense, in medicine, in leisure activities and virtually in all processes.

The developments in technology are constant and almost on daily basis, a new discovery is being made, a smaller processor is created, a stronger processor is developed, a smarter phone is introduced. While gadgets such as iPhones, smart phones, iPods, and others similar have successfully penetrated the market, the most popular device remains the computer. This is one with a great history and the result of years of evolution from the 1943 ENIAC of “1,800 square feet and used about 18,000 vacuum tubes, weighing almost 50 tons” (Computer Hope, 2010) into a 700 grams tablet. This section introduces the reader to the meaning, history and current context of tablet computers.

2.1. Tablet Computer Definition

The specialized literature on tablet computers is still rather limited and this limitation is given by the novelty of the topic. Tablet computers are a recent innovation and most of the information about them can only be retrieved from internet sources, rather than books or specialized journals. Despite this limitation however, the internet does provide the researcher with several relevant definitions of tablet computers. For instance:

PC Magazines (2010) defines the tablet computer as “complete computer contained in a touch screen.” The editors at the specialized magazine continue by explaining: “Tablet computers can be specialized for Internet use only or be full-blown, general-purpose PCs. The distinguishing characteristic is the use of the screen as an input device using a stylus or finger” (PC Magazine, 2010).

The Search Mobile Computing website (2010) states that, “in general, a tablet PC is a wireless personal computer (PC) that allows a user to take notes using natural handwriting with a stylus or digital pen on a touch screen. A tablet PC is similar in size and thickness to a yellow paper notepad and is intended to function as the user’s primary personal computer as well as a note-taking device.” The editors at the website continue to explain that there are two types of tablet PCs. The first type integrates a keyboard within the tablet, which can be rotated 180 degrees and folded. The second type of tablet computers has removable keyboards.

The Webopedia (2010), the self declared number one encyclopedia dedicated to computer technology, offers a rather similar definition, but adds a new piece of information regarding the ability to handwrite on the tablet computer, and then have the handwritten information converted to standard text through a handwriting recognition application. In their own words, a tablet computer is “a type of notebook computer that has an LCD screen on which the user can write using a special-purpose pen, or stylus. The handwriting is digitized and can be converted to standard text through handwriting recognition, or it can remain as handwritten text. The stylus also can be used to type on a pen-based key layout where the lettered keys are arranged differently than a QWERTY keyboard. Tablet PCs also typically have a keyboard and/or a mouse for input.”

The Free Dictionary at Farlex (2010) explains the tablet computer specifically through the lenses of Microsoft’s developments. From their standpoint then, a tablet computer is “a tablet computer environment from Microsoft that is based on an enhanced version of Windows XP. Designed to function more like a portable writing tablet than previous tablet-based computers, it includes handwriting recognition as well as the ability to retain handwritten words and annotations without turning them into computer text. This latter ability is known as “rich digital ink,” because the inking (writing, drawing, scribbling) is stored as a graphic after algorithms smooth out rough edges.”

Finally, a last definition to be presented is offered by Wendy K. Leigh (2010), eHow editor, who states that “tablet computers, commonly referred to as tablet PCs, are wireless portable personal computers that utilize a touchscreen or a stylus pen to access or process information. Most do not require a keyboard or a mouse and are generally lightweight devices that allow for greater mobility.” She argues that the most common type of tablet PC is the slate one, which does not require a mouse or a keyboard. Aside the slate, there are several tablet PCs with various features similar to those of the traditional computer. The functionalities, styles or features however vary from one model to the other. In terms of special considerations to be taken into account upon a purchase or an analysis of tablet computers, Leigh (2010) forwards the following: “Tablet PCs are smaller, lighter and more manageable than other types of computers. They also allow users more flexibility in manipulating information like graphics, diagrams and equations. Potential negative considerations are a higher purchase price and a risk of screen damage due to increased contact.”

While the list of definitions could go further, the ones already presented are sufficient in understanding the meaning of a tablet PC. In the simplest formulation, a tablet PC is a hand held device which was initially created to emulate text, but which is now used as a full blown computer. The device has a series of advantages as well as disadvantages, all of which would be discussed throughout the following chapters. At this stage however, it is necessary to review the history of the tablet computer.

2.2. History

The idea for the tablet computer is generically attributed to Alan Kay at Xerox and the first modern tablet PC was manufactured by Apple. It initially failed to attract the desired audience, but it is believed that the recent innovations of the re-launched tablet PC would ensure its success (Search Mobile Computing, 2010).

While Apple stated that they were the first creators of tablet computers, Microsoft comes to argue the same. Thorn Holwerda (2010) however states that neither of the two it monoliths were the creator of tablet PC. “Well, no. They’re both wrong. Both Microsoft and Apple were late to the game when it comes to tablet computing, and so far, neither of the two companies have been able to popularize the paradigm in any meaningful way – but boy, did they try” (Holwerda, 2010).

In understanding the history of the tablet computer, it is first necessary to differentiate between the concept of the tablet computer and the resulting final product. The concept of the tablet computer was introduced by Alan Kay and the generic name of the computer would be DynaBook. Kay developed the concept throughout the 1960s and 1970s decades. The DynaBook was designed as a tablet style, hand held computer. It would contain a hardware keyboard and a screen; the screen would be constructed using liquid crystals, a recent innovation of the days. The DynaBook was of the size of a notebook and its purpose would be that of gathering information. The creator of the concept believed that the DynaBook would be able to wirelessly connect to an information storage center and retrieve the data required by the user from the respective information center. It would also be able to play audio files or record audio messages.

The DynaBook, source: Thorn Holwerda (2010)

Aside the traditionally accepted elements of the tablet PC, namely the touch screen and the mobile shape, Kay also referred to another string of functionalities which would only be up for implementation several decades in the future. It was initially created as a product for children in order to support their educational processes. Nevertheless, it became much more as it raised new ideas and set the basis for the development and growth of the tablet computers sector.

Thorn Holwerda (2010) mentions that it cannot be believed that the DynaBook was the single concept for the tablet computer, but it nevertheless was the most popular one. Ideas of tablet computers or other specific applications have been present long before Kay developed the DynaBook concept. References to stylus usage for instance date back as far as 1888 (Holwerda, 2010). Elisha Gray’s Telautograph — the predecessor of the fax machine — of 1888 is widely recognized as the “forerunner of the modern tablet” (Smith, 2010).

Despite early on efforts, the first tablet computers were only created during the 1950s and 1960s decades. A relevant example in this sense is constituted by the 1964 RAND, also known as Grafacon or Graphic Converter. It used a stylus which transmitted impulses through a fine grid of conductors in the drawing surface. It was sold for $18,000.

The Rand Tablet. Source: Catharine Smith, 2010

By 1972, a new tablet was created under the name of Digital Graphic. It was sold to educational institutions and to research laboratories, but due to technological advent, it soon became obsolete. The Apple Graphics Tablet was introduced in 1979 and it allowed users to draw on the surface and then have the drawings transferred on computers. Despite the consumer friendly price of $650, the device was unsuccessful and unpopular.

The Apple Graphics Tablet, Source: Catharine Smith, 2010

By the end of the 1980s decade, portable computers came to be developed. Among the very first ones was the GridPad, which weighted 5 pounds and was sold for $2,370. It was well received by both consumers as well as technicians, but the manufacturer encountered difficulties and the product was lost. Then came the 1991 NCR System 3125 which used the PenPoint operating system and which was recognized as a “computer that is truly ahead of its time” (Smith, 2010, quoting the New York Times in 1991).

Two years later, the at&T EO PC was introduced and it integrated a series of developments and improvements relative to its predecessors. It for instance integrated a cellular telephone, a modem, a fax, speakers, a microphone and a hard drive. The company then changed its direction and strived to develop smart phones, but soon enough renounced its objectives.

The at&T EO PC, Source: Catharine Smith, 2010

In 1995 a new tablet computer was released. It was the slimmest to be produced by that time. It retailed at a price of $1,399 and it was entitled the Zenith CruisePad. In 1998, the Fujitsu Stylistic 2300 was launched; it was in fact one of the very first computers to offer a color touch screen. It was lighter and more portable than most of the table PC previously created.

The Fujitsu Stylistic 2300, Source: Catharine Smith, 2010

2.3. Current Landscape

The previous section has presented the history of the tablet computers from the creation of the first concepts up until the end of the twentieth century. During the period, the trend was set and the tablet computer emerged as a product. During the first decade of the twenty first century however, the tablet computer — already accepted — was improved and its functionality and capabilities reached a new level. In 2001 for instance, the Compaq Tablet was introduced and popularized by Bill Gates himself, who argued that tablet PCs would come to dominate the PC market within the following five years. The next year, the Microsoft Smart Display was launched. It was able to connect to a computer through Wi-Fi, but as it was unpopular, it was removed from the market. After three years of relative silence within the market, consumers became fonder of tablet computers. The 2005 Motion Computing LS800 was as such more successful.

In 2010, the tablet PC market is dominated by two main products — the Apple iPad and the HP Slate, with a third one being developed and prepared for launch — the Google Android Tablet.

The Apple iPad, the HP Slate and the Google Android Tablet. Source: Catharine Smith, 2010

Apple’s iPad was well received by reviewers, but its actual success remains to be assessed in the future; it is now too soon to actually conduct such a study due to the novelty of the products. The iPad retails for a price of $499 (which is minimum and can be increased based on features desired and other customer demands). The manufacturer deems the iPad as a “magical and revolutionary” device (Smith, 2010, quoting Apple Inc.).

The HP Slate has been created in such a manner that it integrates several features in which the iPad is missing, such as the compatibility with Flash player. In order to place itself as a competitor in the tablet computers market, Google has also announced the future launch of its own device, the Google Android Tablet. It is nevertheless unknown when the tablet would be launched (Smith, 2010). Today, the market for tablet computers is fierce, with manufacturers striving to capitalize on every piece of technological innovation and enhancing their efforts to increase their market shares. The competitive battle is made more intense also by the fact that consumers are becoming more open to the product and increase their demands for tablet computers. This feature is also given by the continually increasing functionalities of the tablet computers. These would be assessed throughout the following section.

3. Functionality

3.1. Features and Functions

The features and functions of the tablet computers vary based on the specific operations and integrations of each individual manufacturer. It is as such difficult to create a generic table of the functions and features of the tablet computers. Generally however, they serve functions similar to the laptop or personal computers. Apple’s iPad for instance reveals the following features:

a) Safari — the iPad allows the user to easily browse the World Wide Web, to view portrait or landscape pages and to surf through the information using nothing more than the fingers.

b) Mail — easy access to the email — both for reading as well as for writing — using the on screen integrated keyboard.

c) Photos — photo viewing is made extremely user friendly due to the ability to access albums, view photos one by one or play them in slideshow format; all this is possible due to the integrated LED-backlit IPS display.

d) Videos — the iPad lets the user enjoy high quality videos is a multitude of formats, such as HD movies, television shows, podcasts, music videos and so on; this is possible due to the 9.7-inch high resolution screen.

e) You Tube — aside the fact that the screen lets the user enjoy high quality (especially in high definition format) videos from You Tube, the device also integrates a custom made You Tube application, specifically created for the iPad and which allows the user to more easily search and find videos.

f) iPod — the iPad has the applications of the iPod integrated within its features, making it as such easy for the user to play and enjoy music files.

g) iTunes — just like on the MacBook, the user is able to easily purchase a wide array of iProducts, such as movies, television shows, music or other files converted for the iPad.

h) App Store — the App Store presents the user with the possibility of purchasing various applications — over 200,000 applications more specifically — addressing issues and objectives of various importance, from organizational productivity to personal leisure. The iPad is able to play almost all of these applications.

i) iBooks — reading books is efficient on the iPad as the pages are quickly turned, energy and trees are saved and books are highly accessible.

j) Maps — the iPas uses the Google services to allow users to find specific locations and also to help them view the respective locations and the maps through satellite.

k) Notes — due to the screen and high user friendly abilities, the iPad allows the user to write down notes and even to email reminders to oneself.

l) Calendar — the calendar feature allows the user to create their own agendas and to organize them in the means that best serves their professional and personal responsibilities.

m) Contacts — the application allows the user to better manage their contact list, to improve it and to use it at higher degrees of quality and efficiency.

n) Home screen — ensures easy access to all applications on the iPad.

o) Spotlight search — easy and efficient search for specific items or files, based on pre-established research criteria.

p) Accessibility — the user friendly interface was not only created for the average consumers, but also for individuals with disabilities. This was possible due to the universal access built into the iPad, which makes the device accessible to people with visual difficulties, hearing impairments and other physical or learning disabilities.

q) iWork — the iPad integrates the three popular applications on the Mac — Keynote, Pages and Numbers. “The iWork productivity applications that you know and love on the Mac — Keynote, Pages, and Numbers — have been completely redesigned for iPad. So you can create great-looking presentations, documents, and spreadsheets. All using just your fingers. And while they’re easy to use, they’re also the most powerful productivity apps ever built for a mobile device” (Website of Apple Inc., 2010).

The iPad weighs either 1.5 pounds, either 1.6 pounds, depending on model. Its height is of 9.56 inches; its width is of 7.l7 inches and its depth is of 0.5 inches. The display is of 9.7 inches, with a 1024-by-768 pixel resolution at 132 pixels per inch. It is either Wi-Fi, either Wi-Fi plus G3. Its capacity varies between 16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB and its battery lasts up to 10 hours. Complementary products include an iPad dock, a keyboard, an iPad case, USB power adapter or the iPad camera connection kit (Website of Apple Inc., 2010).

Before the iPad became the leader of the industry, the most popular tablet computer was the Archos 9 PC Tablet, which comes with operating system Windows 7, reducing as such compatibility issues. It could be connected to a keyboard and it easily played audio and video files, also allowing the users to send emails. It integrated a video camera, a 60 GB hard drive and the battery lasted up to 5 hours. The tablet computer from Lenovo is praised for the ability of the screen to make a 180 degrees turn and fold. The display is of 10.1 inches and the hard disk is of 250 GB, integrating a Windows 7 operating system. Finally, the ASUS Eee PC T101MT-EU17-BK is a hybrid tablet and netbook, with a 8.9-inch display and a 532 GB storage space. It also integrates the Windows 7 operating system and the battery lasts up to 5 hours (Hub Pages, 2010).

3.2. Comparison of Tablets to Traditional Desktop and Laptop Computers

The popularity of the tablet computers has been intensifying throughout the past recent years and this has materialized in an increased demand for the items. Nevertheless, while the tablet PC is in fact able to perform a series of tasks and operations — as it has been mentioned throughout the previous section — differences still exist between traditional desktop computers and laptops on the one side and tablet computers on the other side. One simple and relevant example in this sense is constituted by the photo operations. The Apple iPad manufacturers for instance argue that their tablet PC lets the user view photos in three distinct manners — portrait or landscape, album or slide show. On a personal computer or laptop however, the user is able to also edit the pictures and organize them in a more efficient manner. While some more developed tablets also offer these features, the applications they integrate for photo editing are generally weaker and less performant than the applications on laptops and traditional desktop computers.

The tablet PC has a distinctive benefit over the traditional desktop computers in the meaning that it is mobile and as such more flexible. The tablet PC can easily be transported and it allows the user to perform a series of operations while on the move. Aside from this feature however, the elements which differentiate the tablet PC from the traditional desktop computers are similar to those which differentiate it from the laptop computer. In the case of the laptop computer even, the benefit of mobility and flexibility is generically lost, as the laptop is also easy to carry around, despite the fact that it is generally not as easy and convenient to use as the tablet PC.

Neil Valentine D’Silva (2010), editor at, makes a comparison between laptop computers and tablet PCs in terms of the advantages and disadvantages of the tablet PCs relative to the laptop. In this order of ideas, the advantages of a tablet PC comparative to a laptop computer refer to the following:

The tablet computer is lighter than the majority of the laptops on the market. Additionally, they can easily be carried around by being tucked under one’s arm, whereas laptop computers need to be carefully bagged each time they are transported from one location to the other.

The tablet computer can be laid down on the table, desk or other surface, whereas the laptop needs to be kept with its screen in a vertical position. While in conferences or in other similar contexts, this vertical position of the screen might obstruct vision of the speaker.

In the case of writing down notes or making an artistic effort, the user is better able to accomplish his objectives with the use of a stylus, rather than a mouse or a touchpad.

The user is expected to eventually master the art of using the pen by identifying the different types of writing and holding the pen, for different results. In time, the use of the stylus to produce results would be superior to the use of a mouse or that of a keyboard.

The tablet PC is more personal than a laptop computer. “Since everyone has a different style of holding and using pens, the tablet PC will become unique to the user, and even the user will become unique to the pen. In fact, there are handwriting recognition applications that will train the tablet PC to understand your handwriting and convert it into text to up to 99% accuracy” (D’Silva, 2010)

In terms of the disadvantages of tablet PCs relative to laptop computers, these include:

The desktop of the tablet PC is significantly smaller than the desktop on the laptop or on the traditional desktop computer. The maximum size of a tablet PC desktop is of 14.1 inches.

The tablet PC — for purposes of maintaining the small size of the device — does not integrate an optical drive. The computer can be externally connected to one, but this feature might generate discontent for the users.

Since they are more personal, tablet computers are generally useful for one single user. The tablet PC will for instance recognize the handwriting of one user, but it will not recognize that of other users. In the case of the laptop or the traditional desktop computer, the devices can easily be used by multiple users, without such concerns.

Due to the nature of handling it through touch screen, the display of the tablet computer is more fragile and more prone to damage than the display of laptops and traditional desktop computers.

Since it uses handwritten texts and turns it into input, the retrieval of the final text result takes longer than in the case of the laptop computer, where the text is initially created with the aid of the keyboard.

Tablet PCs can be more expensive than traditional computers (D’Silva, 2010).

Jeff Van West, Windows XP expert zone community columnist, takes the discussion further and assesses the performance capabilities of the two sets of devices. He finds that tablet PCs are often weaker in applications and capabilities than laptop computers. For instance, most tablet PCs do not integrate a DVD player and then the ability to watch movies while on the airplane is limited. The tablet computers which do integrate the DVD player — about three such devices — are heavier than the average tablet computer, losing as such one of the major advantages over laptops.

Most laptops then are better equipped from both the hardware as well as the software standpoint. They contain more features and they offer higher performances. The screen resolutions are often higher in the case of the laptops and desktop PCs than with tablet computers. Additionally, most laptops also have longer lasting batteries than the tablet computers. Furthermore, the integration of specific features within the tablet computer costs more than the integration of the same features within the laptop, leading as such to increased retail prices (Van West, 2010).

Another difference between the two sets of devices is given by the viewing angle. The general position of the laptop display is a vertical one, facing the user. Additionally however, the display position is flexible as the angle can be adjusted to allow optimal viewing. In the case of the tablet PC, this can only be held in the position suitable for usage, generally horizontal. The angle is as such pre-determined and not flexible.

Overall then, based on the conducted comparison, it would appear that the tablet computers are more adequate for leisure operations rather than complex professional operations. Additionally, they seem more adequate for graphic artists rather than professionals such as software developers or researchers. “Tablet PCs are best for artists and graphic designers. Many tablet PCs even feature a digital pen for further ease of use. Because they have a touch screen, tablet PCs can be controlled by the freedom of your hand. This gives you a much more versatile and controlling feel. Laptop computers are best for general computer users and people who do a lot of typing. The full-sized keyboard and wrist rest allow for comfortable navigation; and the screen is positioned ideally for straight-forward view” (eHow, 2010).

4. Use Cases

Based on the comparison so far completed, it becomes rather obvious that tablet computers are yet unable to replace the laptop computers and the traditional desktop computers. Nevertheless, they do reveal an ability to change the means in which information is handled and this is due to the various means in which the tablet computer can be used. Throughout this section, the use of the tablet computers would be presented in various instances, generally categorized as personal use and business use. Nevertheless, before coming to this objective, it is necessary to understand the mechanisms of user acceptance of the tablet computers. This is best revealed through the lenses of the Technology Acceptance Model. The diagram below reveals this model:

Source: Patricia Ordonez de Pablos, Miltiadis D. Lytras, 2008

At a most simplistic level, the user acceptance of a technology is directly determined by the perceived usefulness of the respective technology — such as the means in which it will improve personal or professional productivity — and by the perceived ease of using the respective technology (Lee and Ishii, 2009). The following use cases will focus on the usefulness and ease of usage tablet computers in various consumer categories.

4.1. Personal Use

a) Education

One of the main benefits promoted by the creators of the tablet computers is that of the device’s ability to support the educational process. Barry J. Doyle (2004) highlights ten distinctive advantages of using tablet computers to support education. He states that the device is extremely useful for students. “The Tablet PC is the next-generation mobile PC — its power, versatility, and portability make it the ideal solution for students who are on the go” (Doyle, 2004).

The benefits outlaid by Doyle are revealed in direct relationship with Microsoft’s tablet PC, but most of them can be extrapolated to explain the usage of all tablet computers in education. In this order of ideas, the gains of using tablet computers in education refer to the following:

1. Usage of the latest and most advanced operating systems in the meaning that all new tablets created are sold with integrated operating systems and the integrated OSs are generally the latest and most advanced ones. Aside from Apple’s iPad, most of the leading tablet PCs integrated Windows 7, an operating system which is rather user-friendly and popular among consumers.

2. Ability to complete educational tasks regardless of location. Offering similar features as any mobile computer, the tablet PC adds more mobility by allowing the students, teachers or other members of the educational system to complete their chores at home, in classroom, in the library, in the coffee shop and so on.

3. Ability to take notes electronically. When in class, many students take their notes by hand on the notebook and then transfer them on the computer. With the tablet PC however, the students are able to have their initial handwrite converted into text format, edited and organized in a manner that it searchable.

4. Information sharing using ink, email sending using ink as well as other features through introduction of ink.

5. Ability to record lectures while in the class. Students using the tablet computer are no longer in need of frenetically taking notes as the tablet computer has integrated audio devices which record the sounds emitted. While the student takes notes, the tablet device records the speech. Additionally, it correlates the notes with the recorded text so that it is easier for the student to follow through the collected information.

6. Personalization of the tablet computer. The device allows the user to personalize his computer either through voice commands either through handwriting recognition. Additionally, “you can use ink, the keyboard, or voice commands. You can calibrate the pen speed, optimize your Tablet PC for your left hand or right hand, and program the hardware buttons to complete specific actions, such as open a program, change screen orientation from landscape to portrait, or record audio. You can also use movements of the pen (called “gestures”) to complete common tasks” (Doyle, 2004)

7. Voice commands. After staying long hours in class and taking notes, students are often tired of writing. They can give their hand a rest by commanding their device through voice. Using their voice, the students can control the device and they can also dictate it what to write, instead of typing the words using the stylus or the keyboard.

8. Usage of the tablet PC increases the efficiency of the educational processes in the meaning that it allows students, teachers and other members of the educational system to complete more chores in less time. Specifically, while commuting, waiting for meetings to begin, for classes to commence and so on, the individuals can get more work done on the tablet computer.

9. Improved protection of critical data. This feature refers specifically to the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 which integrates a Windows XP Service Pack (SP2), which offers additional security tools and technologies. The application can however be installed on the tablet computers using the Windows operating system.

10. Easy and efficient management and deployment of data. This feature also refers specifically to the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition 2005 and its additional applications, which can nevertheless be installed on the tablets using Windows as their operating system (Doyle, 2004).

b) Personal Productivity

The personal productivity gains from using the tablet computer are best revealed throughout the eighth benefit in the previous section. To extrapolate however to the entire community and not just the educational one, the tablet computer can increase the personal productivity of individual users by allowing them to complete more tasks within limited periods of time. Specifically, while the individuals wait for the bus, commute by train and so on, they can complete more personal tasks. They can for instance send emails to confirm an appointment, view photographs uploaded of a new baby, organize their schedules and so on. This ability increases the personal productivity of the users and improves their life styles.

c) Gaming

Gaming is one main features of the tablet PC as the users can play a variety of games on the computer. Not only that the games are fun, but actually playing them on the tablet PC is an entertaining action. Nevertheless, for an addict gamer, looking always to play the latest games, the tablet PC will not present him with this opportunity. The latest games need better developed platforms and more complex software and hardware structures in order to adequately operate. Still, gaming on the tablet PC is creative and pleasant, and despite the fact that the latest games are not possible to play, editions of 2 or three years ago are still adequate gaming options. Here are some games which could be played on the tabled devices and some of their requirements:

Half-Life can be found online for approximately $10; playing it requires a Pentium 133 MHz, 24MB RAM memory, the Windows 95 / 98 / NT4 operating system and a 400 MB disk space.

Half-Life 2 can be found online at an estimate price of $20. It requires a 1.2 GHZ processor, 256 MB RAM memory, 4.5 GB hard disk space and at least the Windows 98 operating system

Halo can be found online at an average price of $20. It requires a minimum operating system of Windows 98, a 733 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM memory and 1.2 GB available disk space

Grand Theft Auto 2 requires a 200 MHz Pentium processor, 32 MB of RAM memory and at least Windows 95 as operating systems

Freelancer requires at least a Windows 98 operating system, a 600 MHz processor, 128 MB of system RAM and 900 MB of available hard disk space.

One notable element is that the games can seldom be played with the stylus, meaning as such that the user is required to connect the tablet to a keyboard and a mouse. Additionally, in spite of the disadvantage of having to play older games, these do in fact reveal the advantage of lower prices. The games above presented were initially sold starting at $50, but are now available at significantly lower prices. Also, most of the games offer free demos, meaning as such that the users can simply download the trial version and test their tablet PC’s gaming capabilities. “Even though many tablet computers are limited with only integrated graphics, they aren’t excluded from playing games entirely. While brand new games that are graphics intensive are out of the question, if you step back 2-4 years you can find plenty of games that work very well, and still look visually pleasing. The added benefit to these games is they are almost all in classic collections and listed at bargain prices at many retail locations. Many games which used to sell for fifty bucks can now be had for ten or twenty dollars” (O’Brien, 2008).

d) Reading

The tablet PC is a great device for reading electronic formats as it reveals a series of benefits. These benefits are relevant in comparison to both traditionally printed books and other sources of information, as well as in comparison to electronic readers. In regard to electronic readers for instance, the tablet PC offers the user an enhanced ability to also complete a wide series of other operations aside the actual reading. The user can browse the internet, view movies, play music and so on. With an electronic reader, he would not be able to complete all these operations, but he would need to also carry a laptop. It must however be mentioned that there is a major impediment in terms of costs. An electronic reader for instance can be purchased for an estimated $150, whereas a tablet PC can only be purchased starting with $500. For people only interested in using the device for reading, the choice would be significant in favor of the e-reader, rather than the tablet computer.

Relative to the printed books, magazines and newspaper articles, the tablet PC reveals two major sets of advantages. On the one hand, there is the advantage of using the device. The individual is able to read the device regardless of location and the existence of sources of light. While in the case of the traditional materials, he will need an immediate source of light, the tablet PC does not reveal such a requirement as it itself has a lighted screen. It is easy to carry around, but it must be better protected than the average printed material. Additionally, it reveals the limitation of not being able to use it in atypical circumstances, such as the bath tub, due to risk of personal injury or damage to the device.

The second set of advantages refers to the environmental benefits. The printed media uses paper support to transmit information, which means that the environmentally unhealthy activity of deforestation is supported. Deforestation results in poorer air quality as well as landslides and the demise of plant and animal life. All these contribute to the incremental threat of global warming and reduce the quality of human life. The tablet PC on the other hand eliminates the need for paper support and as such reduces the need for deforestation. It could nevertheless be argued that tablet devices do generate pollution and energy consumption through usage and disposal. This argument can however be countered with the numerous developments made in the field with the attempt to reduce pollution and energy consumption. One example in this sense is constituted by the creation of more and more solar battery chargers which reduce the consumption of energy from fossil fuels.

Aside ergonomics and environmental benefits, tablet PCs allow the user access to a wider and more cost effective book selection. Aside white papers and several PC documents, tablet computer can read three types of documents — books, newspapers and magazines. In order to enjoy these pieces however, it is necessary to install on the tablet computer the adequate reading applications, called generically readers. The three most common readers are the Microsoft Reader, the Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader and the Palm Reader (Russel, 2003).

e) Entertainment

Leisure time and entertainment activities are a forte for the tablet computers especially when they offer them in efficient conditions, in ergonomic features, being easy to transport and enjoy. The tablet computer allows the user to enjoy photographs, videos, movies and music, play video games, all being easily accessible and transportable. These files can be accessed while the user enjoys a comfortable position on the couch, while commuting by train or bus, or even when traveling by airplane.

Tablet PCs are constructed in such a manner that they create customer value and enhance the experience of using the device. And not only that they ensure access to a wide array of entertaining features, but they also make it easy and fun for the individual to actually use the tablet. They are trendy and fashionable, easy to use and transport, which make them fun and popular among various age groups. Linda a. Epstein (2007) describes her own experience with the tablet PC from HP. “I can’t put my finger on exactly why its such a pleasure to have around or to use but it is. What I can tell you is that it has a beautiful screen and the best sounding speakers I’ve heard on a tablet pc. Combine that with all of the easy to use features and it makes it hard to put it down once you start using it. Another interesting thing I couldn’t help but notice was that people using the tx 1000 always seem to have a smile on there face.

From the hard core experts at the 2007 Microsoft MVP Global Summit to my friends 3-year-old twins everyone who tried this machine enjoyed using it”

4.2. Business Use

The business usage of the tablet PC is rather similar to the personal usage and not much emphasis would be placed on the elements of similarity. However, the acceptance of the tablet devices within the business community is subjected to more than just ease of usage and perceived use. According to the Technology Adoption Life Cycle model, the professional acceptance of the tablet computer is subjected to the business needs, the technological planning within the firm, the design of the system, the implementation, the evaluation and the role of the technology within the business strategy; this process of adoption is a cyclic one. The diagram below reveals:

Source: Carol Joyce Haddad, 2002

At the levels of particular business use, the following are noteworthy: business productivity, organization, reading, paper elimination, meeting management, project management, mobility consolidation and remote access. These are all presented throughout the following pages.

a) Business Productivity

Like personal productivity, business productivity can be enhanced with the easy, versatile and mobile usage of the tablet computer. As a first example, the business professional can capitalize on the tablet PC by using it while waiting for meetings to start or during commuting. This ability helps him save time by getting more tasks done within a limited time frame.

Due to their mobility and wireless internet access, the tablet computers can serve as means of communication between organizational members. This virtually means that information can easily be transferred from one group to the other and it can be efficiently used to enhance organizational productivity and performance. While large businesses are not yet likely to embrace and use the tablet PC at large scale, the small and medium size companies are more opened to the device. Gerry Blackwell (2003) has conducted a study to identify the means in which small size companies have adopted tablet computers. His findings indicate that the small size economic agents have indeed embraced tablet computers.

At a personal level, the professional individual can use the tablet PC to enhance his personal skills. In other words, he can use the tablet in the same manner the students use the device to improve his skills and capabilities. This ensures him that he is better able to perform his job, and also increases his levels of job stability and security, but also creates a certainty that — being trained and skilled — he will be able to find a better job.

b) Organization

The applications of the tablet computers for business professionals are numerous. Technical staff members can for instance better upload the necessary information. Tablet computers help better organize the staff members and as such better identify staffing needs as well as staffing redundancies. Production schedules are more efficiently created and as such better respected. The decision making process is supported by vaster and more relevant information. Customer data is more efficiently collected and customer needs are as such better served. Operational efficiency is improved and companies can as such register higher levels of profitability. “A growing number of small businesses are discovering that Tablet PCs can fill real needs and pay clear dividends []. The interesting thing is, once they start using Tablet PCs, small businesses typically find additional applications and benefits” (Blackwell, 2003).

c) Reading

The reading activities of the business professional reveal the same benefits as those for the individual. For instance, the business professional is better able to access a wider library of professional works. This in turn helps him better solve the professional tasks. Then, he can complete his reading activities regardless of location and in an environmentally friendly manner.

d) Paper Elimination

As it has been mentioned throughout the previous sections, tablet computers reduce the need for paper. This virtually means that they reduce the need for deforestations and as such reduce the threat of global warming. On the one hand, there is the sense of right by conducting business operations in an environmentally friendly manner and being a socially responsible member of the community. On the other hand, there is the increase in reputation which is generated by the decision to reduce paper consumption. The protection of the natural environment is a highly sensitive issue and more and more community members pressure the authorities, the economic agents and the simple individuals to modify their actions and their decisions in the direction of environmental stability. The companies which do become more environmentally responsible gain the acceptance and respect of the general public and, subsequently, that of the customers. This in turn materializes in higher demands for the company’s products and services, and as such higher levels of organizational profitability.

e) Meeting Management

Within the business context, the tablet PC can help better organize activities such as scheduling or meetings. At a primary level, there is the general usage of the tablet computer to set up meeting priorities or take notes of important points made during a specific meeting. At a secondary and deeper level, there are the various specifically designed meeting organizing applications. These applications were particularly created for tablet computers and they address particular meeting management needs.

One example in this sense is constituted by the usage of the MindManager applications onto the tablet computers, combination which has even been named the “ultimate meetings management tool” (Mayfield, 2005). The MindManager is present within the industry for at least two decades, but it was traditionally only used on desktop computers or on laptop computers. Today, it is being successfully integrated in tablet PCs, with similar characteristics as the laptop application, but with the mobility benefits of the tablet.

Specifically, the MindManager application is characterized by a series of features, such as a pen-intuitive user interface, searchable ink, automatic spacing, inclusion of sketches or text recognition. It allows business professionals to:

Instantly capture ideas, take notes and make sketches either by handwriting them or by typing

Drag and drop features

Visually identify tasks, relationships and issues

Refine information based on the feedback from the group

Facilitation of a clearer understanding of the topic

Task organization

Offering of support documents

Existence of supporting documents, resources and materials within a single application (Epstein, 2002).

Overall then, the MindManager on the tablet computer lets business professionals capture and communicate information in a more efficient manner. This leads to more fruitful business meetings and as such, ultimately, enhanced organizational results.

f) Project Management / Tracking

Another professional application of the tablet computer is that of integrating specific applications which allow business professionals to better manage and track their projects. The general underlying idea of these applications is that of allowing the user to organize his project tasks, timelines, objectives and efficiently follow them through. Examples of some applications for project management and tracking include:

Agendus, sold for an estimated $10, which manages the user tasks as well as the calendar

Crosscheck, sold for an estimated $6, and which uses the same mechanisms as on Twitter

EasyTask, which can be freely downloaded as trial and then synchronized for $20, is one of the simplest and most easy to use applications

List n Do, sold for a mere $2, is also extremely easy to use, but it also includes some of the features found in the more expensive applications

Manage, which is sold at an estimated price of $3, is remarkable due to the ability of the user to color his tasks based on personal criteria

Nozbe Todo, sold for an estimated $15, is notable due to its flexibility

Nozbe Todo, Source: Edwards, 2010

OmniFocus, sold for $40, however expensive, is one of the most complex and most developed applications, making the price worthwhile

Outlines, sold for approximately $5, is yet another simple and efficient application to organize tasks and take notes (Edwards, 2010).

Most of the applications are user friendly, integrate screens which organize tasks based on days, priorities or completion levels. They are generally created using the GTD methodology (getting things done). Some of the applications allow the user to personalize the interface with specific items, such as the weather forecast, the word of the day, the joke of the day, or the meaning of the day in history.

g) Mobility / Device Consolidation

The mobility of the device increases the independency of the business professional by reducing his dependency on fixed locations and immobile computers. With the tablet PC, the business professional is able to get more work done in less traditional locations, such as the coffee shop or the airplane.

h) Remote Access

The ability to connect the tablet to the internet using Wi-Fi or the 3G technology further increases the business benefits of using the device. The business professional can easily find the necessary information regardless of location. He is presented with a quick access to a vast data base of sources detailing the technical specifics of each business conundrum.

The features of mobility and remote access improve the results of the business professional by enhancing his levels of knowledge and organizing efficiency. The results eventually materialize in enhanced organizational results.

5. The Justification Case

Despite the fact that the tablet computer has utilizations for virtually any category of individual and professional, it reveals the greatest benefits for three specific consumer segments — students, home users and business professionals. The benefits for each of the three categories would be presented below as justifications for the need for tablet PCs and explanations for their current and future popularity.

5.1. Students

The students would benefit significantly from the advantages that the tablet computers generate within the educational sector. For instance, they would be able to:

Take notes more efficiently

Record speeches

Search through the electronic notes and correlate them with the recorded speech

Conduct online research regardless of locations

Get work done in the class, in the coffee shop, at home or at the library.

This virtually means that the educational process would be improved and the learned skills and knowledge of the students would significantly enhance. On the long-term, this would materialize in better trained and prepared labor force, which subsequently translates into higher levels of profitability of the private sector and higher performances for the public sector.

5.2. Home Use

The home use of the tablet computer is one of the most versatile ones as it includes abilities to browse the internet, watch movies, get work done and so on. However, considering that while at home, the individual is close to his traditional display computer or his laptop for getting work done, the scope of the tablet computer remains that of entertaining the user. And this entertainment can materialize in gaming, photo viewing, internet browsing and so on. The tablet computer helps the individual relax and improve his life.

5.3. Business Professionals

The primary benefits which would be felt by the economic agents embracing the tablet computers refer specifically to the following:

Improved relations with a wide array of stakeholders — employees, customers, the general public, business partners and so on Increases in operational efficiency, organizational performances, productivity and profitability

Cost reductions through the elimination of staff and scheduling redundancies

Gains in reputation from becoming more environmentally responsible

Increases in employee satisfaction and as such organizational results.

In the case of the business professionals, the stimulation of the purchase decision is one of the most difficult and complex endeavors and this is due to the multitude of elements which sit at the basis of the decision. While the students can easily be convinced of the educational benefits of the device and the home users can easily be presented with the advantages of the device, the business professionals are more difficult to convince. And this is because a series of variables interfere with the purchase decision. Some of these variables include:

The business professional’s real need for mobility

The applicability and use for a tablet PC for the business professional, given his individual characteristics, such as nature of the activity conducted, nature of the industry in which he operates, nature of the relationship with the stakeholders and so on the financial resources of the organization and the general financial ability to make the purchase. This is extremely important for every organization, but even more so for those where increased numbers of tablet computers would be required.

The tradeoff from purchasing the tablet computer, materialized specifically in the construction of a cost — benefit analysis

In order to sell the product to the business community, it is first necessary to understand its mechanisms and the forces which drive it to accept or reject technological development (Management Science, 1989).

6. The Mobile Internet Age

The past recent years have witnessed impressive and aggressive developments within the it community. One of the most relevant examples is constituted by the internet. Initially confined to a few internet cafes, the internet eventually came to be present in most homes, offices and educational facilities. Today, it is also present on the street, in shopping centers, in hotel rooms, parks and so on. This is possible due to Wi-Fi and 3G wireless connections, but also due to a series of well developed gadgets which capture the waves and allow the individual to browse the internet. There are mainly three categories of devices which stimulate the age of the mobile internet — telephones, tablets and other devices.

6.1. Phones

Telephones which offer internet services function in the same manner as traditional mobile telephones, with the difference that they are more hi-tech. they for instance integrate additional applications which allow the user to connect his device to the internet, but also improved hardware equipments which allow the telephone to capture the internet waves and connect to the World Wide Web. The telephone can connect to the internet trough two distinct channels:

Its own paid internet subscription, which is included and paid in the fee to the telephone service provider

The wireless internet connection available in the region

The internet from the telephone can generically be used on the telephone itself, or it can be redirected to another device, such as the laptop. A particular application, however not directly related, is that of using the internet to make telephone calls. This option is becoming more and more popular due to the advantages it generates, including lowered costs.

The general mechanism of how the internet is used to make telephone calls is revealed in the diagram below:

Source: Lawrence Harte, 2003

6.2. Tablets

The tablet computers can connect to the internet either through wireless connections, either through special hardware devices, such as modems, which make the connection between the World Wide Web and the tablet computer. Most tablets have their own inbuilt applications by which they let the user connect and use the internet. The internet applications of the tablet computers are generically those of a traditional computer, including browsing abilities, downloading and uploading possibilities, as well as chatting.

6.3. Gadgets

Aside from the telephones and the tablet computers, the internet is also available on the traditional desktop computer and the laptop. The it community is however making intense efforts to create new mobile internet devices. Prototypes in this direction have been created, but the business has yet to flourish. As a general rule, the internet will be mobile and available on gadgets which integrate Wi-Fi and 3G connection possibilities. Some examples of other gadgets which present the user with the ability to browse the internet include:

The HD DreamScreen — it is a digital picture frame of enhanced sizes and added functionalities; it for instance streams videos and audio files and it also connects to the internet

The HP DreamScreen, Source: Ron Enderle, 2009

The HP Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Technology Web Printer — it connects to the internet and manages to gather and print information and content without the aid of a computer

The HP Photosmart Premium with TouchSmart Technology Web Printer, Source: Ron Enderle, 2009

Microsoft’s Third Generation Zune — the device does not attempt to become a mobile computer, but it focuses on the entertaining dimension and it allows the user to log to the internet and view television shows

Sonos ZonePlayer S5 — a new and revolutionary device which connects to the internet and then transmits it to other third parties, such as the computer. It is often assimilated with creating the desired infrastructure for a home office.

The WikiReader — a small device which instantly connects to Wikipiedia and allows the user easy access to encyclopedia information

The WikiReader, Source: Ron Enderle, 2009

The Ctera CloudPlug — it is a screenless device which needs to plug into the wall, and then to the computer for instant internet access

The Ctera CludPlug, Source: Ron Enderle, 2009

For the time being, these devices are not common or popular. Nor are they highly performing as they only focus on one specific task. But improvements are expected to become obvious and it is traditionally assumed that eventually, all devices will be connected to the internet. “All of these things live off the Web. You may need a PC to initially set some up, but after that, they generally don’t care if you connect them again. They are Web connected, easy to use, and focused on doing just a few things well. And this is really just the first big wave: We have larger, smarter, and better devices coming. Eventually everything will be connected — heck, Chrysler started doing cars last year. Granted, some of this stuff is kind of raw at the moment, but it will get a lot better, and you can almost imagine a time when it will be an exception if something electronic isn’t connected to the Web” (Enderle, 2009).

7. Tablet Device Company Landscape

The tablet manufacturing industry is highly dynamic and competitive. It is generally concentrated within the United States, but several foreign players are also emerging. Of notable importance are the Japanese hi-tech manufacturers such as Toshiba, Fuji, Sony or Panasonic, but also Finish Nokia, Taiwanese HTC and multinational Lenovo. At the national level, notable players in the industry refer to Apple Inc., Microsoft Corporation, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, or Google.

The demand for hi-tech products within the United States is directly influenced by the state of the economy and the subsequent purchasing powers of the population. Another determinant of the demand for hi-tech products is constituted by the desires of the leaders in the public and private sectors to improve their operational efficiencies and integrate technological developments within their business operations. The success of the large companies depends on their technological expertise, on their ability to create competitive products as well on their marketing abilities. Smaller size companies generally compete on niche markets, selling specific products. The following lines briefly describe some of the most notable players in the industry.

7.1. Computer Companies

a) Apple

Apple Inc. has been founded in 1976 by the worldwide recognized Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniac. The organization employs an estimated 34,000 people in the United States. Throughout their existence, they have emerged as a leader and in constant competition with Microsoft. Apple’s revenues totaled up to nearly $43 billion in 2009, following a constantly ascendant path (Apple Inc. Website, 2010). The notable strategy implemented by Apple throughout the past years has been based on a strong model of Customer Relationship Management, with the aim of increasing customer satisfaction. Within the tablet market, Apple is highly competitive. The main advantage to the Apple tablets is constituted by the strength of the brand, whereas the disadvantage is constituted by the lack of compatibility with non-Apple products and features. “Apple’s tablet is typical of an Apple product — polished and beautifully functional as long as you don’t want to do anything outside of Apple’s closely controlled world” (Gizmodo, 2010).

b) Dell

Dell Inc. was founded in 1984 in Austin, Texas by Michael Dell. The company employs an estimated 94,000 individuals within the United States. In 2009, its revenues reached nearly $53 billion, suffering a decrease from the previous year (Dell Inc. Website, 2010). The decrease in revenues is generically attributed to the internationalized economic crisis which reduced the individuals’ and the state’s buying powers. Dell produces items such as desktops, telephones, notebooks and other hi-tech devices. The distinctive strategy at Dell was that of cutting intermediaries and engaging in direct sales. Within the specific market of tablet computers, Dell has yet to make a strong entrance. Its Dell Streak 7 has received poor reviews from customers and the company still needs to advance in this field.

c) Lenovo

Lenovo was founded in 1984 and it is currently headquartered in Beijing, but also in the United States and Singapore. The multinational produces items such as notebooks, desktops, printers or servers. Similar to Dell, 2009 has presented Lenovo with a decrease in its revenues, and the demise is associated with the international economic crisis. Lenovo employs an estimated 32,000 individuals in its global locations (Lenovo Group Limited Webiste, 2010). Lenovo has been relatively salient but is now emerging with one of the best sold and most praised models, the Lenovo S10-3t.

7.2. Cell Phone Manufacturers

a) Nokia

Nokia is the undisputed leader of the mobile telephone industry. It was founded in Finland, in 1865 under the name of Tampere and then incorporated under the name of Nokia six years later. The company is currently focused on producing smart phones, but it also produces networks and traditional mobile telephones. The company employs nearly 130,000 individuals worldwide (Nokia Corporation Website, 2010). The distinctive strategy of Nokia has been that of cost reduction through outsourcing.

b) HTC

HTC is a relatively new company and it has only emerged as a strong competitor throughout the past recent years. The company was founded in 1997 in Taiwan. It employs less than 6,000 individuals within the country. It has become specialized in the production of smartpshones. Recently, the organization has created smartphones which integrate the Android operating system, competing as such with the greatest global producers in the industry. The HTC Corporation has closed fiscal year 2009 with increasing revenues, totaling up to $4.55 billion (HTC Corporation Website, 2010).

7.3. Operating System Vendors

a) Microsoft

Microsoft is generically recognized for its developments in the software industry, namely for the creation of the worldwide accepted and popular Windows operating system. It nevertheless also expanded its presence within the hardware industry with items such as game consoles, mice or keyboards. The company was founded in 1975 and has since evolved into the leader of the it industry. Its revenues in 2009 totaled up to $62,484 billion, following an ascendant path. Microsoft employs an estimated 89,000 individuals (Microsoft Corporation Website, 2010). Its distinctive strategy has revolved around aggressiveness of promotions, as well as successive acquisitions of either competitors, either firms which could create more value for the corporation. Microsoft had developed a table years before, but renounced it. Today, they are striving to regain some of that competitive advantage of being the first to develop and introduce a new device.

b) Google

Google was initially recognized as the most popular search engine on the internet, but it eventually evolved into a software developer which could compete with the established leaders of the industry. The organization employs nearly 22,000 individuals in various global offices. Google produces items such as web browsers, photo editors, various desktop products, mobile products as well as web products. The company’s revenues have followed an ascendant path into $8.312 billion for 2009 (Google Inc. Website, 2010). Google is overcoming its reliance on advertising and online operations to also manufacture items and include its operating systems on them. Tablet devices are a primary target of Google.

7.4. Gadget Companies

a) Archos

Archos is the French manufacturer of PDAs, hard disks and several portable media players. It was founded in 1988 and it is currently headquartered in Igny. The company is a small one, employing slightly over 200 individuals, but it is continually expanding and opening more offices across the globe (Archos Website, 2010). Archos has focused on creating a competitive product at competitive price, but has compromised the hardware of the tablet, which means that the company’s products are less competitive as they are less technologically advanced.

b) Sony

The Sony Corporation was established in 1946 in Japan, where it is still headquartered. The company operates in various global locations through various offices. It sells its products worldwide and these virtually include any category of electronics consumer products. 2009 has also been a financially difficult year for Sony, who faced decreasing revenues as a result of the internationalized financial crisis (Sony Corporation Website, 2010). The major emphasis in Sony’s strategy has been that of brand strength. The Sony Dash has been promoted through brand campaigns, but the product has also succeeded due to its hi-tech features and applications. Their complexity however limit the number of individuals who can efficiently use the device.

8. “Consumerization” of Technology

The technologic field has evolved into two distinct directions. One the one hand, more applications were developed and the newer applications were better able to serve the purpose for which they were intended. They were stronger, more reliable and more accurate. More it firms were opened and they strived to join in the revenue abundance in the industry. On the other hand, all these endeavors materialized in the consumerization of technology. With more applications on the market, their prices decreased and they as such became more affordable and more easily accessible to consumer. Additionally, the technological applications also became less complex in interface and more user friendly. Today, technology has come to be represented by a wide array of consumer products — competitive products, available at affordable retail prices and easy to use. In this context, three elements arise as noteworthy of attention — the application vs. The operating system, the ease of using the devices and the human oriented design.

8.1. Application vs. Operating Systems

At the simplest level, the application is understood as the program created to interact t with the user and serve his needs. Webopedia (2010) identifies six sets of applications: word processing applications, graphics, spreadsheets, communications, databases and gaming applications. An application is generally expected to meet a certain set of criteria, among which the ability to run independently of other applications and to not interfere with the functions of other applications. Additionally, the application should allow the user to operate it using the touchpad, the mouse or the keyboard. It should contain sufficient information on how the application is to be operated as well as integrate a help menu. It would also contain images to support the action of the application and of the user. Finally, one last requirement, and maybe the most important one, is for the application to remain constant throughout all of its stages (Department of Commerce, 2010). It is of the utmost importance for it to reveal the same notations, images and so on throughout the entire running of the application, otherwise the user would be unable to adequately employ it.

The applications constitute one of the two important halves of the computer software. The second half is constituted by the system software, among which the operating system. The system software integrates the multitude of systems which help the computer function. At a more specific level, the system software include: operating systems, compilers and utilities, all which serve the purpose of managing the computer’s resources (Webopedia, 2010).

The diagram below reveals the architecture of the two sets of software in computers. Since they in fact make the computer work, the system software sit at the basis of the system. As they are secondary software which cannot run without the system software, the applications sit at the top of the diagram.

Source: Webopedia, 2010

8.2. Ease-of-use

The second of the most important components of the process of technology consumerization is the ease of using the applications. Today, virtually anybody can operate a technological device or application. They were constructed in such a manner that it is easy for the users to control them. At a deeper level, the ease of using a device is given by five distinctive requirements:




Error tolerance, and Ease of learning

The effectiveness of the device or application is reflected by its ability to successfully accomplish the objectives for which it was intended. Additionally, it also integrates the correctness of the operations conducted. The efficiency of the device or application is reflected by the correlation between the speed and the accuracy with which the device can complete its tasks and attain its goals. The engagingness refers to the interface which has to be pleasant and engaging to use. The tolerance to errors refers to the necessity for the device or application to continue to function adequately even when the user has introduced a wrong command. The it developers generally take a series of steps in order to reduce the risks of errors, such as making it difficult for the device / application to take incorrect actions or making it difficult to take irreversible actions. Finally, the ease of learning refers to the fact that the device and application might require upgrades, which support the easy learning process for the user.

Ultimately then, the ease of using a device or an application is a complex notion, integrating on the one hand the mixture of the five Es, but also, on the other hand, a mixture of the means in which people use a product, the creation of a user centric product and the evaluation of usability (Quesenbery, 2001).

8.3. Human Oriented Design

And not that just the technological applications and devices were created to be easy to use, but they have come to integrate a series of elements which make them even more suitable for interaction with the humans. The most relevant example in this sense is offered by the customization of the applications and devices to respond to specific customer needs. For instance, several manufacturers have created large button remote controls or large button mobile telephones. The tablet computer from Apple then is created in such a manner that it can receive commands from visually impaired users. The future is expected to bring about additional improvements through which all technologies would be human oriented and as such easy to use, easy to interact with and easy to control.

9. Concluding Remarks

9.1. Summary of Findings

The modern day society is evolving at a rapid pace and a major part in this new and dynamic society is played by technology. Technologic innovations are present in all aspects of the modern day life and they impact virtually all human activities. One specific example of how it has influenced the society refers to the management of information. Despite the existence of numerous devices, the personal computer remains the most popular one and the cash cow of the it manufacturers.

The personal computer has followed an impressive evolutionary path, from the 50 tons ENIAC to the 25 ounces iPad, and it is expected to continue its development into more powerful and more efficient computers. The tablet PC sector is currently an emergent one, characterized by dynamicity, rapid evolution and high levels of competition, but also by high levels of uncertainty. The first efforts in the direction of creating tablet computers were made at the turn of the nineteenth century, but it wasn’t until the beginning of the twenty-first century that the devices attracted the attention of the customers. The evolution of the tablet computers went through stages of limited consumer access due to high prices, lack of consumer interest due to limited product functionalities, to gradually move up to higher levels of both interest as well as accessibility. Today, the market is dominated by the iPad, but the HP Slate and the Google Android Tablet are also threatening with strong competition.

The tablet computer is generically understood as a light and portable, hand held device, which is able to record data and execute user commands. It is controlled either by hand or by a stylus, through the touch screen. The tablet computer has grown from a device only able to support typing applications into a full blown computer. The features of the tablet PC are generically given by the desires of the manufacturers, by the applications they have integrated and so on. In order to reveal the common features of tablet PCs, the case of Apple’s iPad was selected and it numerous features were presented. Among others, these features include emailing, photo viewing, audio and video file playing, maps, electronic reading or calendars.

The tablet PC, while presented as offering similar features and functionalities with the laptop computer, is in fact notable due to several differences it reveals in comparison to the laptop and to the traditional computer. Firstly, it is lighter and more flexible and easy to carry around; it is personalized and efficient. Nevertheless, it appears to integrate fewer features than the laptops, to perform fewer operations and to reveal lower performance levels, as well as poorer hardware equipments. The tablet PCs which come close to the performances of laptops are either heavier or more expensive and as such lose their main advantage. Based on the comparison, it is concluded that tablet computers are more adequate for leisure activities and for graphic artists, whereas for general computer users and more complex professional tasks, the laptop computers and the traditional desktop computers are more suitable.

In relationship to the more traditional computers, such as the desktop computer or the laptop, the tablet PC reveals a series of both advantages as well as disadvantages. In terms of the advantages, these include elements such as increased mobility and flexibility, reduced dependency on immobile sources of information, improved ergonomics, personalization or ease of usage. Relative to the disadvantages however, these include a reduced display, lower software and hardware equipments and poorer performances, limited gaming possibilities or restricted display angle.

The utility of the tablet computers is best revealed by the means in which the computer is used and useful for a wide array of purposes. The tablet PC is for instance credited with supporting the educational process. Additionally, it enhances personal productivity; it creates opportunities for relaxation through reading, gaming or various other entertaining applications. Aside these personal applications however, the tablet computer can also be used within the business community; here, it is credited with supporting the enhancement of business productivity, organizational performances, paper elimination, meeting and project management through mobility and remote access. Given the multiple applications of the tablet computer, three particular customer segments are identified as benefiting most from the device — students, business professionals and home users.

The industry landscape in the tablet computer manufacturing industry is a highly dynamic one, as well as a highly competitive one. The manufacturers are generally strong and powerful industry leaders which create a wide series of electronics consumer products, among which the tablet. Examples of leading firms include Microsoft, Apple, Dell, HP and so on. Each of these players has strived to differentiate itself from the competition by developing and implementing a specific strategic approach, such as Customer Relationship Management, direct sales or brand strength.

The higher levels of competition within the industry, combined with the rapidity of technological advent within a developing society, have come to materialize in the consumerization of technology. This specifically means that it became easier for the general individuals to purchase technology products and this was due to lowering prices of the products, increased ease of usage and a human oriented design. The ease of using an application or device — one of the most crucial elements of the consumerization process — is given by the combination of a series of elements, such as speed and accuracy of technological processes, tolerance to errors or ability to accomplish user goals.

Limitations of the study

At the level of the study limitations, one of most importance is given by the opinion of this researcher that it is yet too soon to assess the true impact and capacity of tablet computers. The products are still new and they were only recently accepted by the market. Despite their long-term existence, the consumer is just getting used to the item. Even with the case of the Apple iPad, despite positive reviews, the success of the product cannot be assessed. In this order of ideas, while the conclusions remain valid in the current context, it is possible for them to suffer relevance modifications as the consumers become more or less prone to use tablet computers or as other social, economic, technological or otherwise changes impact the communities. Given this limitation then, it is assumed that it would be constructive to reassess the study findings within one year’s time, during which period the impact of the tablet PC would have been better consolidated within the civil and technological communities.

Answering the research questions

The research conducted so far has addressed a series of issues and topics related to tablet computers. And while the findings were important and relevant, there is a distinctive need for them to be organized in a more centralized manner in which they answer the initially posed questions. As it has already been mentioned, the complete and full answers cannot be offered due to the existence of several elements of uncertainty, such as the evolution of the devices or the evolution of customers’ needs and wants, preferences or abilities to purchase the items. However, generic answers can be offered based on the data available at this stage.

In this order of ideas, the following paragraphs strive to answer the questions.

1. Will tablet devices replace the need for laptop computers?

The decision of whether to purchase a laptop computer, a traditional desktop computer or a tablet PC depends on the specific needs of the individual, such as the need to use the device on the move, the operations to be handled with the device, its desired resistance and so on. Given this element of individuality in the purchase decision, it is rather impossible to offer a clear statement of whether laptop computers would be made obsolete by tablet PCs. Nevertheless, it is, at this stage, difficult to believe that the tablet computers would replace the personal computers and the laptops.

The laptops and the traditional PCs — however they reveal similar functionalities and features with the tablet PCs — are more complex and offer more opportunities to the user. A relevant example is offered by software engineers, editors and other categories of workers spending increased amounts of time in front of the computer. These people need a large display and a keyboard — at least, but they could also necessitate other auxiliary devices, such as printers, mice and so on. The ability to use such devices on laptops and personal computers is significantly better than the ability to use the respective items with tablet computers.

Additionally, the tablet computers are more useful when it comes to leisure and relaxation activities, whereas personal computers and laptops are more prone to serve professional purposes. Sascha Segan (2009) at the PC Magazine for instance argues that Apple Inc. did not create the iPad for it to replace the company’s previous devices. “The iPad doesn’t replace anything Apple currently sells. You type on your laptop at your desk. You surf with your iPhone while on the go. But you’d relax with an iPad on the couch, prop it up by your bed, or rest it on the airplane tray table” (Segan, 2009). In other words, the iPad would not replace the laptop and the personal computers.

2. Will tablet computers make eBook readers obsolete?

Electronic readers are already gaining in popularity and this is due to a series of benefits, such as protection of the environment through the reduction of deforestation necessity or through the integration of solar batteries. Additionally, they are ergonomic, easy to use and more cost effective than traditional reading. At an initial level, the tablet computers do not reveal any benefit in addition to the ones already accounted for by electronic readers — that is in the reading process. Nevertheless, the tablet PCs do however reveal the ability to complete other functions as computers do. This virtually means that the devices do generate a major threat for the electronic readers for the simple reason that the user will no longer need to carry and use two specific devices — the laptop and the e-reader — but will only need the tablet PC and this will fulfill the two sets of operations perfectly. From this standpoint then, it is highly possible for the tablet PCs to replace electronic readers.

There is another element to consider — the cost of the two devices. An Amazon Kindle is for instance sold at $189.00, a Barnes and Noble Nook commences to retail at $149, whereas an iPad from Apple is sold starting at $499. The major difference in costs indicates that people who use the device mainly for reading would think twice before spending more money on the tablet PC. Nevertheless, the number of people who only buy devices for reading purposes is limited and statistically insignificant. The conclusion that tablet PCs could as such replace e-readers is sustained.

The same conclusion is also reached by Sascha Segan at the PC Magazine. The editor for instance argues that Amazon, much like Barnes and Noble, went into the business of electronic readers as a means of boosting book sales. They are in fact content sellers and unable to maintain high levels of competition within the it industry, where Apple is an undisputable leader. Amazon and Barnes and Nobles are not expected to register tremendous loses from the demise of their electronic readers, as they will continue to focus on their core operations — book selling. The loses would however be registered by magazines and newspapers hoping to access new customers through Kindle or Nook subscriptions, and who would be forced to release their content free on the internet (Segan, 2009).

3. What impact will tablet devices have on the news paper and publishing industries?

At a first level, it has to be noted that the tablet computers represent a direct competition for Kindle, Nook and other electronic readers. This means that the publishing companies which were hoping to sell Kindle or other types of subscriptions to the readers and as such enhance their profits will have to put their plans on hold or find different means of increasing their profits.

Relative to the printed media or printed books, these will also suffer demises in operations and profits. The tablet computers allow users to read digital format books and newspaper and magazine articles. On the one hand, the digital format of the information generates a series of environmental benefits, such as a decreased need for paper and as such decreased deforestations. On the other hand, there is the increased user value upon reading in a digital format, such as increased ergonomics or reduced costs. Still, the more traditional readers continue to prefer the scent of printed books or newspapers and cherish the feeling of turning their own pages. This virtually means that books and the printed media would not disappear, but they would nevertheless suffer demises.

Aside the environmental impact, the changes in the printed media and books would also generate a socio-economic impact. The decrease in the need for publishing services would materialize in a decrease in the need for the respective staff members. People in publishing would as such lose their jobs and would become unemployed. On the one hand, there is the increasing severity of the socio-economic problem of unemployment. On the other hand, there is the necessity for each individual employee to gain new skills in order to be able to perform a new set of professional tasks.

4. Will environmental green initiatives help catapult the use of tablet computers in corporations as alternatives to print and document production?

The green initiatives are highly likely to generate a modification within the business community. The threat of global warming and environmental endangerment is no longer just an idea, but a reality of today. Groups of environmentalists are intensifying their pressures to determine both individuals as well as organization to reduce the negative impact their actions have upon the environment. Along demands such as reduction of eliminated toxins, reduction of water pollution through dumping of waste or reduction in the created greenhouse gases, the reduction of paper consumption is also on the list of environmentalists.

Nevertheless, it cannot be assumed that these pressures would determine economic agents to purchase tablet computers for their staff members. On the one hand, the tablet computer has a restricted applicability within the business community in the meaning that there are several operations which cannot be completed on the tablet, but need traditional computers. Purchasing both tablets as well as computers is redundant. On the other hand, there is the financial constraint, which is best revealed by the rather high costs of the tablet PCs and the constant organizational desire to restrain costs. Additionally, the alternative to paper is rather costly and would not be embraced without adequate financial support and legal stipulation. These two indicators, corroborated with the fact that environmentalist groups do not exercise a tremendous pressure upon economic agents, make the researcher believe that environmentalist initiatives would not lead to the increasing propagation of the tablet computers within the business community.

5. Is Apple’s existing Ecosystem of iTunes Music, Movies, TV Shows, Applications, and new Book store the winning strategy for putting a tablet device in every consumer’s hand?

It is at this stage difficult to answer any question regarding the future popularity of the tablet computer. Nevertheless, it is certain to argue that the ecosystem strategy implemented by Apple Inc. is a definite positive approach to convincing consumers to purchase the tablet device. At a general level, the tablet computer is accepted by the population but for now praised for its entertaining features mainly, as well as for its most notable characteristics of light weight and easy mobility and transportability. Aside from the very own specific features of the tablet computer, if the customer is presented with the ability to quickly access books, information, articles, movies, music, games and so on, his interest in the device would significantly increase as the utility of the gadget would increase. Depending on the personal features of each user, the ecosystem of books, music, videos, shows and applications ensures that each customer can easily find a personal means in which they can use the tablet PC. While the success of the ecosystem remains to be seen, the strategic approach of Apple is strong, viable, and if anything can bring the tablet device into the hands of every consumer, Apple’s ecosystem has every change of being that anything.

9.2. Significance of the Research Project

The significance of the current research endeavor is a dual one, on the one hand sitting the theoretical importance, whereas on the other hand sitting the practical importance. In terms of the theoretical significance, this materializes in the centralization of vast sources of information into a single and unified piece of work. The academic community has yet to become a valid source of strong articles on tablet computers generally due to the novelty of the topic. This study as such represents a starting point for a better understanding of the possibility of tablet computers in massively impacting the future management of information. Additionally, it also constitutes a starting point in the construction of future research endeavors. More specifically, like most research projects, this current endeavor was constructed on the analysis of various sources. Throughout the examination of the respective sources, several sub-topics and sub-issues were identified. It was not the scope nor the ability of the current project to answer all questions related to tablet computers, but it can nevertheless raise the questions and promote them as grounds for future research endeavors. In this order of ideas, some of the questions which could constitute starting points in the future academic efforts include the following:

1. It is generally assumed that specialists spending increased numbers of hours in front of the computer would not be replacing their PCs or laptops with tablet computers due to the limited functionalities of the tablets in comparison to traditional computers. In this light of thoughts, what improvements should be brought to the tablet computers in order for them to be considered as real and suitable replacements for the traditional computers?

2. What improvements are currently considered for tablet computers? Are efforts being made in the sense of creating an ability for the table computer to be linked to other devices, such as desktops, keyboards, stereo sets, printers and so on? What is the functional future of the tablet computer?

3. It is often argued that electronic readers, and in this case, the tablet computer, generate environmental benefits by reducing the need for paper. While this is undoubtedly true, what is the level of pollution they generate throughout their own manufacturing, usage and disposal processes? Isn’t this type of pollution more threatening and important than the savings on deforestation? What is the final environmental tradeoff from the replacement of traditionally printed materials with electronic support? What developments are being made to reduce the levels of pollution generated by electronic readers and tablet computers?

4. Referring to a tablet PC from HP, Linda a. Epstein (2003) argues that “From the hard core experts at the 2007 Microsoft MVP Global Summit to my friends 3-year-old twins everyone who tried this machine enjoyed using it.” Is the tablet PC more popular among specific group categories? Are demographics and socio-economic characteristics important in determining the use of a tablet computer? How are tablet computers used among various consumer segments?

5. Technology has evolved both in the sense of innovative developments, as well as in the direction of consumerization. How have the developments in the direction of consumer technology come about? What elements impacted the path and what is the future likely to bring about?


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