I recently added a Vizio tablet to my list of technological acquisitions. It’s a relatively good Android-based tablet that is very reasonably priced compared to equivalent functional models. However, I realized today a pattern emerging regarding my usage of the device–I’m more willing to pay for content when using my tablet than I was on when using my PC.
The primary reason for the tablet investment was to gain a hands-on experience with what the future is shaping up to look like. I would not be the first to state that tablets are consumption devices, but what I haven’t seen clearly stated is that the future is rosy for content publishers, such as the music industry, book publishers, magazine publishers and websites. While these devices are nothing more than scaled down operating systems, they are clearly not designed to offer a multi-windowed multi-tasking experience. This means that it’s highly unlikely you will find a burgeoning market for the creation of content, such as movies, music, art, books, and even blogs that run on these devices.
I am not saying some application developers won’t develop tools to support creation in this manner, but I am saying I don’t believe there will be a large audience of users who will be creating content on tablet and mobile platforms. Additionally, as cloud-based services continue to emerge for the storage of tablet and mobile content, such as Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google Music, the barrier for acquiring and loading the content on alternative devices through alternative means increases when compared to the ability to click a button and have it show up on your cloud storage system.
The thought of acquiring a CD, ripping it and then copying the songs onto my phone or ipod is already too burdensome a task compared to clicking one button, running the Amazon MP3 application on my tablet or phone and voila — my music. Plus, these devices don’t come with typical peripherals needed to perform these operations. The tablets and phones that do have USB ports are for tethering to PCs for maintenance and loading, not extension.
That said, I will never consider writing even a blog entry on that device because I would most likely want to slit my wrists before finishing the first paragraph. Heck, I can’t even stand IM’ing on that device because of the pain of typing on it. Which means that while the future is less rosy for the PC market, there is still going to be a need for power machines to help develop the content that is being consumed by our phones and tablets. It also means that I’m going to want responsive access to the files that I’m working on and most likely will not desire to wait for this data to be transferred over the Internet. So, this data will continue to be stored locally either on the PC or on a local area network, which may or may not be backed up to the cloud.
All-in-all, the tablet and mobile computing market has dramatically shifted the balance of power in favor of the cloud. Indeed, it might be fair to say that it’s these devices that have really breathed life into the need for cloud computing since most users are consumers, not producers, of content. The one gray area of course is social media, which turns all users into content producers, but typically at a level or volume that is achievable on the mobile device specifications and uses alternative input effectively, such as camera and audio. This begs the question, if the PC/LAN era is shrinking due to this fact, can it still be considered commodity or will it become specialized and will equipment for publishers cost more in the future due to less volume?