Filed Under:Technology, Core Processing

The Tablet Evolution

As I sit here typing this blog post using Microsoft Word through the OnLive Desktop Service on my iPad, I’m thinking there’s something to this tablet movement. While not revolutionary, it’s certainly an evolution beyond the laptop—and in more ways than I expected.

Before I get into the subject matter at hand, I want to apologize for the long delay between posts. I have a good excuse: My wife, Jill, and I had to move fromMichigantoMarylandand I had to change jobs. That process took me away from writing—but that transition is almost complete.

I started this post about four months ago, prior to the change. The focus at that time, and the place I begin, is in the unusual effect tablets have on sales and marketing. It seems that there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about tablets. People respond to them, and they’re a great conversation starter. I’ve been at meetings with agents and the starting point is almost always, “So, how do you like that iPad?” It’s a great entrée to sales conversations. It also seems to imply some kind of technology savvy that may (or may not) be present—but perception is reality. Having said that, be sure to control the conversation, because you may walk away having only talked about the device!

The other element of tablets—and one that I originally was skeptical of—is their applicability for “real” applications. Sure, they’re nice for games or simple little apps, I said to myself, but not policy administration and claims. Well, I was wrong. Again, as I sit here typing on the keyboard that’s part of my iPad case, I realize it’s entirely possible (even if I have to use the fn key to type apostrophes).

Here’s where the rubber met the road for me: the cloud. While the cloud is another technology “trend” I wasn’t too keen on, cloud + tablet is very compelling because I have (essentially) a fully functioning laptop (through the emulator, fed from the network) that has no applications installed and no storage—because the data is in the cloud. It’s lightweight, easy to use and fully functional. While it’s not a revolution, it’s the next step in an evolution that began with the laptop. I can see myself getting rid of my laptop—and I have never uttered those words before.

Some things to consider (besides the need to use the fn key for the colon): If the network is down, you’re down—entirely. It goes beyond that, though (and beyond the need to use the fn key for semi-colons); if the network isn’t fast enough, the emulator may not load, or will have such bad lag that you won’t be able to use the desktop. That’s an important consideration in a world of throttled 4G (or worse yet 3G) connections. Sun Microsystems used to say the network is the computer. Those words were never more true. Not coincidentally, I’m making that statement just as the OnLive connection is warning me of network problems, which is pausing my writing. (That’s funny, but not ‘ha ha’ funny.)

The tablet is here—and useful in many ways, even beyond the obvious. While probably not news to you, it is to me because that future is beyond what I expected. Whether as a compelling sales and marketing tool or as your laptop replacement, the tablet has evolved into something useful and worthwhile. Now if they could just fix that fn key…

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