An open letter to OEM’s:

Dear HTC, LG, Huawei, Apple, Nokia, et. al.

We the mobile consumer wish to address a concern that we have, and indeed have had for some time. This concern has burrowed its way into mobile society and lies content it its satisfaction that it cannot be overcome. This concern is a clumsiness built into most mobile devices of today. My friends, I am referring to the abandonment of precision. The Stylus.

The stylus’s absence can be felt with every Draw Something sketch, with every cursor drag, with every photo that goes un-retouched. The human finger is just too big and too clunky to give us the precision that some tasks in mobile technology require. Oh sure, there are work-arounds – drag handles on cursors, algorithms to correct a draw path, and such, but lets face it, this –  is no substitute for this – .

Of course, we realize that this must have been an oversight on your part, but it’s taken six years to correct it. And even now, Samsung’s S-Pen and Microsoft’s Surface stylus are the only trend buckers in that light. They each have their own tech that makes them work, keeping all their sylus warm and fuzzies securely on the homefront.

Surely by now, you realize that this is a huge oversight and should be corrected in the near future. What  HTC was thinking not integrating into the One, we can’t be sure. All we can do is send them flowers and hope they recover soon from whatever it is that so obviously ails them. So please, we ask that going forward you bring the stylus back and show it the love it so richly deserves.

Most Sincerely,
Mobile Technology Enthusiasts

Admittedly, I’m a precision junky. But, I think I can speak with some amount of confidence that this letter does speak for a number of folks out there. When I switched from my Palm Centro to the Palm Pre Plus back in 2010, one thing I constantly bemoaned was the lack of stylus. Even just pulling out an unopened ballpoint pen made my Treo and Centro experience so much more enjoyable. I loved being able to tap in between the “r” and “g” in the word “Stargate” and put my cursor right there. Of course I never would want to do that, because a more perfect word has never been formed. But anyway.

I was not a fan of the Samsung Note when it debuted almost 2 years ago. I just thought it was too darn big. I lamented it’s lack of Ice Cream Sandwich. I figure it was handy if you needed a convenient portable runway for a small plane, but beyond that it just had too many flaws. But that S-Pen…

“S” Stands for “Sexy”

That S-Pen was almost enough to make me scramble out to the AT&T store and buy one. The Galaxy Note made me want a stylus again. It made me crave the precision for editing. It made me want to draw on photos. Our own Michael Fisher enjoys the ability to scroll with it. Never saw that coming, but I can see the appeal.

Overall, it made me realize that capacitive screens may be fantastic for so many reasons including readability, durability, and multitouch. But there is a lot to be said for the stylus and the resistive touch screens of the past. Which is where the Samsung/Microsoft found a happy compromise with Wacom technology.

Unfortunately, the nature of Wacom tech means that you can’t just pick up an S-Pen and use it on your iPhone, or even your GSIII. Indeed, Wacom requires specific tech within both the stylus and the screen to work it’s magic. But that technology in screens could become as ubiquitous as capacitive screens if OEM’s jump on board the stylus bandwagon. All that’s needed is the screen tech.

The Samsung Beta-Test

At this point, that screen tech is currently only available on screens large enough to surf on – waves, not Internet. If this same tech could be brought to the smaller future screens of the world, that would open a new wave of accessories, and therefore all new revenue streams, for all these OEM’s. I remember back in the day, most cell phone accessories kiosks at the local mall carried a variety of styluses – decorated, with tethers, and even some that had the ability to switch between a writing pen and a stylus.

And the success of the Galaxy Note II especially shows that the stylus is in demand. Whether that demand is generated by the extremely large screen, or the stylus, or something else entirely is certainly debatable. But I can surely point of more than a few cases where the S-Pen is a can’t miss feature.

Finger tapping and finger drawing are possibly the greatest compromises made by smartphones today. Wacom gives us the opportunity to bridge that gap between precision and durability.  It simply cannot be ignored any longer. It’s a great point of differentiation and it’s an easy way to capitalize on Samsung’s “stylus beta-test”. The stylus is back and it’s better than ever. All we need is OEM integration and we can complete the resurrection of this dead-before-its-time technology.


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