Prepare for free tablet

Tablets featured in Moses’ journey as he lead his people to the promised land

Computing entered a new stage when Apple launched the iPad in April 2010. It isn’t too soon to talk of the post-PC era. Tablets like the iPad are killing traditional computer makers.

Tablet sales may have already passed PC sales.

The post-PC switch is accelerating with lower cost models like the iPad Mini, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire bringing down the cost of replacing conventional computers with lighter, more mobile devices.

Dirt cheap Indian tablets

Now we hear Indian students can buy the Aakash 2 tablet for 1130 Rupees – around NZ$25. That’s a government-subsidised price, the tablets sell commercially for twice the price, roughly NZ$50.

For that money you get a seven-inch capacitive touch screen, a 1GHz processor and 512Mb of memory. The battery lasts for around three hours. It runs Linux.

For westerners, $50 is a throwaway price. While some westerners would dismiss its lowly specification and even snigger that the Aakash rhymes with trash. That would be dumb. The world will soon be full of cheap tablets. Possibly free tablets.

Older readers may remember when digital watches were new. At first they were fashion items for the well-heeled, just like the iPad. Soon everyone in the west could afford them. Within a few years of introduction, petrol stations were giving them away free as lure. Companies would hand out branded digital watches at events.

Tablets will go the same way

Unlike digital watches, content companies wanting to sell news, reports, videos and other media will give customers tablets to seed their content market. This is already happening with Amazon which sells the Kindle Fire at close to cost then makes a profit when customers buy ebooks. Google is doing something similar with its low-cost Android tablets.

The key to understanding this is that Google and Amazon are not hardware companies.

This is not good news for Apple – although the iTunes business is growing fast – the company still relies on hardware sales for profits.

This puts me in mind of another kind of prophet tied up with tablets. Will Apple end up like Moses: leading its people to the promised land, but not finishing the journey?

8 thoughts on “Prepare for free tablet

  1. I thought phones were headed for the $5 gas station price point (like calculators and digital watches) prior to the smartphone being invented.

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  2. I can remeber a few years ago many cell phone manufacturers were touting streaming media and other entertainment to your phone. While I still remain unconvinced on that front, it seems the slightly larger format of the tablet has the ability to provide that service. I recently bought a tablet instead of replacing my laptop for browsing media and information on the go. It is simply a far more robust medium in a mobile format than any laptop I can think of. However in the work environment of Word and Excell I still can’t replace the laptiop.

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    • For writing on my iPad I use an app called iA Writer. It cost me $1.99, I think it costs more now. It does everything I need, but I’m a journalist so my word processing needs are different from most people. I hardly ever use a spreadsheet, if I need something simple, then Google spreadsheet is good enough – otherwise I’m back to the desktop for Excel.

      What tablets can’t do, in my opinion, is serious content creation. Dealing with videos, web design and audio. I also use the desktop’s large screen to show two documents side by side when I’m writing something complex.

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  3. Pingback: “The world will soon be full of cheap tablets. Possibly free tablets.” « Explore Communications

    • Yes, I suspect there will be pressure to make them more recyclable or upgradable – no idea how, it’s almost uneconomic upgrading a desktop and they’re relatively easy.

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