ZIFFPAGE TITLEA Change in Product

By Guy Kewney  |  Posted 2004-03-31 Print this article Print

Promotion"> What is changing? In a word, Microsofts perception of which product to promote. A year ago, I was still being invited to see Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.s smart display. A huge thing requiring two flunkies to carry around, it would cut off the circulation in your legs if you tried putting it on your lap. If you wanted to use the machine upstairs, you had to rig a block and tackle and hoist the display upstairs first. Had the thing become compulsory equipment for some reason, there would have been a flourishing market in mountaineering backpacks for carrying it. Beautiful, yes, and at least as useful as any steam-powered refrigerator.
Apparently, a couple of months back someone in Redmond asked why tablet sales in Europe are lagging so badly behind projection. Microsoft, at last, is putting some marketing muscle behind it.
This wont end the Tablet PCs problems. Basically, what you need to make the tablet truly popular is a breakthrough in battery technology, not just a marginal improvement. Im not saying there will or wont be an improvement announced next week, but I am saying that if there were to be, it would not change the tablet from something heavy that lasts three hours into something you can fan your face with and lasts all day. Nobody in battery technology expects that. And even if we had batteries as light as SD cards that could power a PC for 18 hours, it still wouldnt make the tablet a success. What it will take in the end is nothing short of a bold, courageous commitment by Microsoft to make Tablet Edition the standard version of XP and to enable full ink features for all modern PCs with some kind of optional pen-board. As long as the tablet stays a minority interest, developers will fail to support its features and users will only buy one if they have to. Still, at least the European arm of Microsoft has stopped promoting the wrong machine. Check out eWEEKs Mobile & Wireless Center at http://wireless.eweek.com for the latest news, reviews and analysis.

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