The Wild Wild Tech: For Once, Style Before Function

I hate to admit it, but things have changed in the computer world. Just five years ago, the desktop PC dominated the market. Now, outside of offices, desktops have become an endangered
species. The laptop has been the king of the hill for the past few years, surging in popularity thanks to a push from Generation Y, social networking and the web 2.0 movement.
In the past year, things changed once again. Although I still remain somewhat skeptical, it would appear that the tablet is not only here to stay, but also here to rule. People doubted that they would ever ditch their desktop
workstations for laptops but it happened.

Surprisingly, the tablet has a legitimate chance to become the go-to device for everyday computer-users on a long-term basis.
However, the tablet has entered into a strange problem that may hinder its current success. Unlike the PC industry, the options in the tablet industry are not equal. Sure, there are countless options for those looking to purchase
tablets, but there is also a reigning king.

The Apple iPad is the dominant figure in the tablet industry. It isn’t necessarily the best tablet, although it certainly does its job very well. Quite simply, the iPad is cool. Apple is cool. Having
anything else is almost the same as a fashion faux pas. The idea of technology and gadgetry becoming mainstream to the point where they are almost considered accessories that need to be fashionable is something that seemed insane a decade ago. Now, it’s almost a necessity.

Hewlett Packard, better known as HP, recently released a tablet, the TouchPad, which utilized their own webOS operating system that they acquired when they purchased Palm. HP also discontinued their TouchPad
after roughly seven weeks of poor sales following a monumental investment in designing and building the device. This is the No. 1 PC manufacturer in the world essentially admitting defeat. Their defeat was apparently so crushing that they are considering spinning off their PC business to another company to focus solely on enterprise solutions.

The apparent insanity of this situation is almost frightening. Is the iPad really so cool that it can scare its greater competitor, HP, right out of the market? Apparently, the answer is yes. One possible solution to stopping
the iPad juggernaut is price drops. Most tablets are retailing for roughly the same price, offering no real incentive for customers to not pick the “cooler” iPad to make sure they impress their friends. Still, competing
solely on price can only get you so far for so long.

The real answer that these companies seem to be missing is that their products don’t have to be cheaper or better, they need to be cooler. Take a page out of Nintendo’s handbook: forget processing power and technical capability, and just make things that are fun to use and cool to see. For the tablet to ever usurp the laptop, it needs a lot of functionality added to it. Applications like Photoshop are on their way, but the tablet can’t replace the laptop just yet. As long as Apple has no real competitor to push them, they won’t worry about that. Give us a tablet that looks like a glimpse of the future, not a practical object for the present. The tablet market is relatively new, and people are still excited about it. For these few years, embrace the fact that innovation, surprise,and imagination can trump pe formance and tech specs.
For once, let function take a backseat to style. Break into the market before it’s fully defined, and worry about peak processor performance and ram configurations later. To all of the companies out there developing these devices: Let
your imagination run wild, or else consider the race already lost.