Engadget columnist Ross Rubin declares the death of pen computing.
The premise of the column is that pen computing doesn’t add enough value. There is value the article claims in diagramming and forms–but this just isn’t enough to justify the expensive of providing one. Just use a separate digitizing pad if you must …. reminds me of a comment Howard Elias made last night at the DEMO Innovation dinner. He was being recognized for his contributions in introducing the first multimedia PC in 1991 at DEMO. At the time he was challenged: Why does a computer need sound? It was a good question at the time. Never much of a gamer myself, that’s what I thought at the time too. But ten plus years later it seems out of place….I was still a laggard in terms of having a microphone equipped computer. At the time, I made the mistake of correlating the value of a microphone with speech recognition–which didn’t work for me well enough to be useful. But now with VoIP and apps like Skype my view has changed. I want a microphone with all my computers so I can talk with people. No speech recognition required. I wouldn’t buy a notebook or Tablet without a microphone–or better yet a microphone array–today…. Via [Incremental Blogger]
Additional insights in the original post, but the point about the microphone is so spot on that it’s worth highlighting. The delay between early adopters and majority, the difference between the expected use (by the early adopters) and the killer app, the critical mass necessary before the killer app could be created, and even the way that the implementation evolves (the first mike on a computer I ever used was something that came from a Radio Shak tape recorder, then came the era of the cheap plastic mike, and now we’re in the era of the noise-cancelling headset and array mike).
At this point, I think we know that writing per se won’t be the killer app of the Tablet PC (I’ve written entire columns on the Tablet and even I mostly write using a keyboard). I’m going to say the same thing is true for drawing, even though I am vastly less competent to talk about what appeals to professional graphics people. I still think that the day Word supports standard proofing marks (not just ink comments, but “Yank this…reverse this order…insert text here”) is the day the Tablet becomes mainstream. (A day that will almost certainly coincide with the day that one can create an Excel formula in ink!)
On the other hand, I also feel that the real killer app of the Tablet is something that we early adopters haven’t anticipated. My current suspicion is that we’re too focused on static aspects of “pen and ink,” that the things we think about today are too focused on X and Y coordinates, when the great advantage of the stylus over the mouse may very well be that it provides a much richer data stream — not just X, Y, and time, but pressure and tilt.