Message to HP, Dell, Acer, Lenovo – Pull up your socks before Apple and Google spank your rear end with UMPCs and Tablets

computers The Microsoft Windows based Tablet PC has been around for over 7 years now, and Microsoft are pushing ahead with lots of tasty touch and multi-touch support in Windows 7.

What are the big hardware vendors doing though? Nothing.

Playing it safe with boring convertible Tablet PCs. No innovation. No imagination. I mean, I am a big fan of the Tablet PC, but convertible laptops are hardly risky.

HP have tried a couple of things, like the original TC1000 and TC1100. The TC1000 was a huge step outside the square on form factor. Unfortunately it was dismal failure because of the Transmeta Crusoe processor, but the TC1100 fixed that.

It was a compact 10 inch machine that weighed only 1kg. It could be used purely as a slate Tablet, but the design of the convertible keyboard that it came with was just brilliant. It was such a versatile machine.

But of course, to get people to pony up the money on a product like this requires sustained effort. It requires lots of marketing and some patience.

HP_TouchSmart_tx2_Front So what did they do with it? The hid it under a rug of course and did no marketing to speak of. When it failed to sell in large enough numbers, they reverted back to the usual dumb strategy above. Play it safe…

HP have tried a *bit* harder with the Tx2. They have targeted it at consumers and done some online marketing. They’ve built in a multi-touch n-trig digitiser to get some ooh and aah action going, but will it work?

There is a lot of interest in the Tx2, but I doubt that it will sell in huge numbers. The price is better, but the specs aren’t awesome. But hey, I should give them credit for having a go, even if it is a little safe for my liking.

The netbook trend shows the potential of the ultra mobile computing market, but why can’t PC manufacturers see past their noses? The only big consumer brand playing in the UMPC space is Samsung, and they are minnows in the PC world.

img_6036_4648_large_q1utlra_frontWe have had a Samsung Q1 in the house for six months now and it is always in use. It’s often in the kitchen being an online recipe book. For emailing, web browsing, IM and media it’s awesome. I personally wouldn’t be without a device like this, but it’s just too darn expensive to be a big hit.

If just one of these four big PC manufacturers took a risk and innovated in this space, the result could be incredible. There is a huge demand for mobile computing devices as netbooks and the iPhone has shown. But the iPhone only chips away at the edge of the potential. Ditto for netbooks.

Unfortunately, it seems that the hardware vendors have overwhelmingly taken a “we tried that once and it didn’t work” approach. They are too busy not making mistakes to ever learn anything. I think that they will pay for this missed recession proof opportunity.

iphone_hardware1_20081217In the meantime, the entire space will be stolen from them by an iPhone like device from Apple. More Apple devices in the hands of people mean that the Microsoft hegemony will die.

If it’s not Apple, it will be Google. Google and T-Mobile are about to go to market with a slate UMPC style device to run Android. There is a demand in the market here, and the capabilities of the hardware are able to meet it. It’s just a question of who is going to take the risk of making something to meet the demand.

Hopefully Microsoft will wake up like they did in the Netscape v Internet Explorer era and do something about it. But the cosy and boring little arrangement that they and the big four have going must come an end. They need to kick the big four into action before it’s too late.

Written by brettg in: Tablet PC | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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