jay's old blog

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They are not making tablet computers anymore

A tablet computer or simply tablets, have been around for a while now. When Apple (10 years ago) introduced the iPhone, it completely changed the landscape of phones. Then, it did it again with the iPad, that completely changed how we could get things done in a new device that was a mix of a desktop computer (larger screen, support for keyboard, increased productivity) but with the convenience of a smart phone (portability, app store, touch screen).

Today, Apple is still the king of tablet making. Obviously, the legion of Android manufacturers go where Apple goes, and have their own range of tablets. All this is good and fun, but things were strangely different when I finally decided to grab one of these bad boys for myself. I found out that many companies simply have stopped making tablets, and there was little choice, if there was any at all. The tablet market has...matured, and has changed drastically.

Oddly enough, the cheapest and decent (at least a 1080 p screen and actually good processor) was from Apple. Can you believe that? Apple making the cheapest product in a given category? Strange world. Despite the low price, buying a tablet (or for that matter, even a phone) is kind of suicidal for a power user or even a casual user. The thing is, Apple steadfastly refuses to allow usage of SD cards. Sure, people in US and Europe and all those modern countries may have super cool broadband access, but here in India, we still have to rely on 'stored on storage' stuff for entertainment. The larger is the storage space on an Apple device, the more insane will the price become. So yes, we dont want to buy Apple stuff. Not yet anyway.

I turned my eyes away from the super attractive apple iPad and looked at the Android offerings. Android has always been the poster child of variations and customizations and give something to everybody. This held true for smartphones (there are phone availabel from as little as 3000 rupees and going all the way up to 70000) and I assumed that they hold true for the android tablets as well. Unfortunately, for me, that wasnt the case at all.

I noticed that there almost all the big name tablet vendors have quit. Taking the 1080 p screen as a minimum benchmark for a decent tablet, there are literally no such tablets being sold at a price that is less than a apple, and has a 1080 p screen. The tablets that are sold fall into two categories. Cheap tablets that cost less than 10000 but have pitiful specifications (like no 1080 p screen) or super expensive ones that cost more than 40000 which are simply not practical to buy.

I looked at myself, and wondered I wanted to buy a tablet. As I have explained in the earlier blog post, I had a niche requirement of a tablet for writing my blog and novels. So, I decided to buy a cheap as salt tablet and now I am blogging on it right now. If not for this writing hobby of mine, I am quite content with my Oppo phone which meets all my other entertainment as well as productivity needs. In other words, the android smartphones have cannibalized their own tablet shaped brothers.

Why would anyone buy (and carry) a 7 inch tablet (the most popular size among tablets) with them when their phone is already 5.5 inches (the more popular screen of phones these days) and can do everything tablets can do. Since people are not buying tablets, there is less innovation in the tablet category. As I said before, the tablet specs are just pitiful. Another reason I could think of is that, tablets dont need to be replaced as often as phones. I have no choice but to buy a new phone every 10 to 12 months because I use it a lot (the mobile nature of my job) and wear them out. A tablet, on the other hand, wont wear out so fast. So, they get replaced less often.

Then, there is the windows 10 factor in play. Tablets are mostly brough for productivity (since phones, and their big screen have gobble up all the entertainment and communication part) and windows 10 is finally making its presence felt. Windows 10 tablets are cheap, they have support for any and all productivity software. Also, they work flawlessly on cheap and expensive hardware, and Microsoft has actually done a good job of selling Windows 10. If not for the fact that some of the apps I need are not available on windows 10, I would have sprung for a cheap windows 10 tablet than the cheap android tablet I am using solely for blogging and writing.

For tablets, they are fighting a two front war. On one side, their own brothers i.e. android phones, are eating into their share. On the other side, Windows (which was desktop only) is now becoming totally mobile (as far as productivity is concerned), is also eating into their marketshare. Essentially, they have become a niche category like health bands and smart watches and other things only some people will need, and every body will never care for them.

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