This is why productivity tablets haven’t taken off

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I don’t know about you, but I had my first computer back in 1992. It was really my Dad’s, but I was the only one that used it for many reasons that I’ll explain later. It was a clone PC with a 386 processor, 2MB of RAM, an 20MB HDD, and it ran DOS 4.2. I remember every single DOS command I needed to operate it before we upgraded to Windows 3.1, and I would enjoy playing Prince of Persia, Wolfenstein 3D, Duke Nuken, and other titles that made this my only game console for years to come.

Still, one of the things I remember most about those times is that computers daunted regular people. My Dad owned that computer for years, and ironically he never used it. Back then; it was common for companies to even hire people just because they “could use a computer”. Times have changed, and as people adopt smartphones and tablets more and more, this trend is rapidly changing, but that doesn’t change the fact that there are a good percentage of people that are still daunted by computers. My Dad uses computers more today, as software has become more intuitive, but bare in mind again that 21 years have passed for that to happen.

I also remember when I started working in an airline once. There was a lady that would be in charge of building the statistics data sheet for the company and she would not sleep for 3 days to get it done every month. As I approached her about it, I noticed that she would use Excel, but she would calculate everything on a desk calculator because she had no clue that Excel could do this for her. I narrowed her job from 3 days to just 3 hours immediately with a couple of formulas on her existing sheet, but that doesn’t change the fact that she was left traumatized by her experience with Excel.

senioripadAll this said, every time I travel, I find airports full of senior citizens using an iPad. Doesn’t it make you wonder why people from that generation were so daunted by computers, and yet, they still love to use an iPad?

Every time that I see a Microsoft ad of the Surface or any other Windows tablet, I chuckle at the fact that they never forget to mention that these tablets run Microsoft Office. Apple sold more iPads in one year than Microsoft’s partners sold Tablet PCs in a decade, and all that without running Office. I wonder if Microsoft has learned anything about the reasons why tablets sell, and why its tablets haven’t sold as well.

So the question is, how many people around you find productivity computers to be fun? There’s no denying that productivity computers are much more powerful than an iPad or any Galaxy Tablet. There’s nothing that an iPad can do that a Windows tablet can’t do, and people still focus on buying iPads or Android tablets for reasons that most don’t understand. In cases like mine, in also buying a laptop for work, so let’s go through a couple of the reasons why we believe that is.

We don’t always want to be productive

Some of you might be too young to notice this, but in my case, most of the people that I know get a work computer at their job. Whether it’s a PC or a Laptop, a great percentage of people already have a productivity computer that they can use for work. The last thing that these people want is to buy a personal tablet or computer that reminds them of work, and I’m sure this is even more of a need for those that are still daunted by computers.

In my case I do have a work computer that I spend a lot of time on. Whenever I want to disconnect myself from work and do more personal things, I use my iPad. I won’t deny that I bought Documents To Go Premium, and even the whole iWork productivity apps for the iPad, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I don’t use them. It’s pointless to do so, if I have a laptop that can do these things in a much more effective and comfortable way. Using excel on a 9.7-inch display is cumbersome no matter how much you want to debate it.

As it turns out, I use my iPad most to catch-up with my favorite websites, or to read a book. I also love using it to read magazines, and I find myself watching YouTube videos mostly on the iPad as well. I do own a ton of games and I play them every now and then as well. Tablets for most of us are fun and personal products and not really devices we prefer to use for work. I’m not saying you can’t use them for work, but I’d rather deal with excel on my 15-inch Macbook Pro.

Everything is not better than a focused solution

ipad-microsoft-adI’m sure that there are a ton of students that don’t get a work computer from their jobs. In their case in particular, having a product that can do everything is very important, and still, I would never recommend any low-powered Atom-based Windows tablet to any engineering student wanting to use AutoCAD. Surely the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is powerful enough for this, but then we depart the price point of the rest of the tablets, and we also question how comfortable it is to deal with most productivity tasks on such a small display.

The biggest problem with using tablets for work is that they stop being tablets the minute they are too big to be portable. The biggest problems with using computers for more personal usages is that the experience is more cumbersome if it’s heavy, or if it requires a fan to stay cool, or if you’ll have to worry about its battery.

This is like trying to use a truck to drive down town, or to use a sedan to haul things. Yes, you can do these things, but neither scenario is comfortable enough for most people to bother.

The bottom line

The latest and funniest trend I’ve seen is of tablets that are capable of making phone calls. Why are they not going to take-off? Well, simply put, because even if they can do these things, nobody is going to replace a phone that was designed for this in order to us a tablet. You can definitely save a couple of bucks by doing this, and we do understand Microsoft’s mentality of giving you one product that can do it all, instead of having you buy a tablet and a laptop. I’m sure this will be the reality in the future, but sadly it isn’t today. Using one product for everything is still cumbersome.

In my case, even if I can afford to buy a Surface Pro instead of carrying my Mac and my iPad, the main reason why I don’t is because technology has not evolved far enough for me to enjoy editing a video in such a small display, and because I can’t imagine myself trying to read a book in such a heavy tablet. I’m sure there are tons of people that agree with me, and I guess that’s why productivity tablets are still struggling to make a dent.

What about you? Do you agree with my thoughts on this? Would you add something or disagree? Leave us a comment.

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About The Author
Jaime Rivera
Jaime has been a fan of technology since he got his first computer when he was 12, and has followed the evolution of mobile technology from the PDA to everything we see today. As our Multimedia Manger, he’s been in-charge of growing our YouTube hobby into one of the biggest video channels in the industry. When he’s not building one of our videos, or filming our Pocketnow Daily, he can be found in his second biggest passion, which is running and fitness. Read more about Jaime Rivera!