Published in Mobiles

Apple iPad is five years old

by on03 April 2015

And is still Grot

In a 1970s comedy show The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin the lead character tried desperately to fail by going into a business which sold used cardboard boxes and square hola hoops.

To his profound disappointment his business is a huge success. People wanted to waste their money on grot. This is exactly what happened to the Tablet.

It is five years ago today that Steve Jobs copied Microsoft's tablet and convinced his fans that he invented it.

In fact Steve had invented a keyboardless netbook which used a touch screen instead of a stylus but other than that it was pretty much the same. It launched with the following killer apps which made it a must have item for everyone:

"er... nothing"

As a result cynics such as myself could not see how it could succeed. However we made a huge mistake – we assumed that punters were reasonable people who could see that the product was pointless and expensive and avoid it.

The danger of course was that the novelty would wear off or that people would realise that it was basically a giant broken mobile phone. Apple tried, as it had always done to control the market. Initially it insisted that tablets had to be a certain size but found its rivals cleaning up by making smaller ones. Then the tablet killer finally happened.

Manufacturers realised that if they made the phones a little bigger they could take everything useful from a tablet and not need to have two devices. The Phablet was born and the tablet, while not completely dead had to be so cheap before anyone would buy it, that Apple was not interested.

So while the Tablet was touted as a "game changing device" it was basically showing the way to more functionality from bigger mobile phones or better touch screen netbooks.

Apple discovered, what Microsoft had before it. Tablets were of a limited use because they were too big to be truly mobile and too easily duplicated by other technology.

Apple could have saved the situation. It had five years to come up with a killer app that made the tablet relevant – but it couldn't because as things are now, we don't have a use for one. The Tablet was the square hula-hoop and will go the way of all fads.

Cynics like me were right—it just took a lot longer for the great unwashed to realise that they had just handled Steve Jobs $500 for something that really was as useful as a used cardboard box and other Grot.

Five years on, tablets, which were supposed to crush the PC are fading from view. God knows what the next big thing will be, but maybe this time it will not be Grot.

Last modified on 03 April 2015
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