The move towards a Tablet world

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Back in 1997 Lotus introduced Kona. Kona was a set of javabean based applets intended to help reduce the cost of developing and deploying business application on the internet. This would later evolve into Lotus E-suite. E-suite was billed as a way of providing users with the software that they needed when they needed it. IBM would later try to sell Network Workstations with E-suite. These workstations were intended to be light weight PC’s that basically used the e-suite applications hosted on a server. In concept, these were supposed to be diskless workstations that got all their information from the network. All of this sound familiar. Wow, when you look at the dates that these were released this easily predates google apps, microsoft 365, Lotuslive, etc…

E-suite is gone. But I do think it’s concepts continued to emerge in things like Lotus Workplace and later on in IBM’s Symphony’s strategy. But here I am digressing even before I’ve even talked about the main theme of this blog.

My thoughts are that we’ve been moving towards a lighter computing environment for years. E-suite and the introduction of the Network workstations were an early attempt by IBM to move us there.

Two years ago the hottest ticket item at christmas was the netbook. A netbook was a small notebook that was optimized to be light weight making it easy to transport, fast for most usages, and have a long battery life, etc…. The sub $500 entry point made them the darling of university students and house wives. ASUS, ACER, Gateway and HP made a killing on these. In 2009, 35 million netbooks shipped. By 2010, however, Netbook sales had dropped by 40%. Currently their sales are insignificant.

Why did the netbook sales drop so significantly? Well, that would be Apples fault. Apple introduced the IPAD in 2010. Sold 3 million in the first month. By the end of 2010 it accounted for 75% of the netbook/tablet sales.

In July, Apple had a great quarter. Revenues up 82 percent. They sold 9 million IPad 2’s in the same period. Revenue for the IPad and peripherals reached $6 billion. Up a total of 179 percent. In the same period apple sold $5.1 billion in desktop and laptops. When asked, Apples Tim Cook stated that the IPad was now cannabilizing sales of their desktop products. But it was probably cannabilizing PC sales at a faster rate.

So that’s interesting. Apple had originally introduced the IPad as a complementary device to desktop computers. In reality it has now become the replacement. Along the same line as the Netbook provided “just enough” technology, the IPad provides “just enough and more” technology. Now don’t get me wrong it is a pain to type on. I would never want to right a proposal on it. Even with a keyboard it still isn’t that great for that kind of work. But for the majority of things I want to do, it is fantastic. And for the Majority of the things that most of the consumer population want to do… It is the only computer that they probably need.

I’m an avid IPad fan. I bought a first generation IPad and I bring it with me everywhere. But I’ve noticed that most websites have been slow in adapting to the unique characteristics of the IPad safari browser. For example, Navigon is the premier GPS software for the Iphone/Ipad. However its website has been developed exclusively for the Desktop market.

There are a number of characteristics that we need to be aware of when developing to the Ipad market. Here is but a few (if you have any addtional items please add them!)

1. Width – Horizontal vs Vertical viewing of websites – Normally, when building a website, we build to the average user or the lowest acceptable common denominator. So are we building our websites to be 768, 800 or 1200 pixels wide. But an Ipad doesn’t have this concept. A website can be viewed horizontally or veritcally or it can be viewed zoomed in. Developers need to use a “fluid width” approach to developing for the IPad.

2. Use your fingers – The only way to navigate on an Ipad is by using one’s fingers. Therefore special effects like “hover’ don’t work. Once I touch something I’m already navigating to it.

3. Scroll Bars don’t work the same way.

4. Size matters – Embedded hot spots might not be apparent on an IPad. They may be too small. This also make it difficult for users to actually select them with their fingers.

4. Flash support – Not supported so you need to use HTML5

5. 3G vs Wifi – So not everyone is going to be connected to wifi. 3G is great but do you really want to burden the user with large downloads

6. Popup windows – Opens a new browser page. Puts the originating page in the background.



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