Tablets Find Safety at
School"> Gateway isnt the only tablet maker to be eyeing education. Competitors such as Toshiba Corp. are in the hunt for higher education as well. Bentley College, in Waltham, Mass., recently chose to outfit a number of its incoming freshmen with Tecra M4 tablets from Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., one of Toshibas United States arms. Toshiba said the college would outfit 410 of its 925 incoming freshmen with the tablets and study the impact of tablet PCs on their learning as part of its Student Mobile Computing program. "Inasmuch as there is a market there [manufactures like Gateway] can develop substantially, I think education is it," said Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates. "Id call it the biggest niche."Kay, in a report published last month, predicted that tablet shipments will long be a niche product and will total less than 4 million units per year by 2009, well below some recent forecasts, which had predicted tablets would quickly become general purpose computers and see shipments as high as 14 million during the same time period, he said.Gateway doesnt dispute the lower projections. In some ways, it embraces them. It will market the new machine more as a notebook with a pen interface than a tablet PC, expecting people to use it as a notebook about 75 percent of the time and only about 25 percent of the time as a tablet, McDonald said. "This product is all about taking a convertible mainstream. Its not about being the thinnest, super light, $2,000 convertible youve seen," Diehl said. But he added Gateway still aims to better Kays figures, in part by taking some of the analysts suggestions. Next Page: Tablet troubles could be over pricing.