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?