Where is the tablet sweet spot?

December 14, 2009 · 1 min read

When I have 10 minutes or less, I can inform or entertain myself by checking email or Twitter on my iPhone.

When I have 90 minutes and some table space—and preferably wi-fi—I can be productive on my laptop.

Since getting a Kindle a month ago, I’ve found that it’s perfect for that spot in between, when I have around 45 minutes, maybe not much space, maybe no wi-fi—for example, getting lunch by myself in a small cafe. That’s too long to productively do email on the iPhone, but not ideal for working on the laptop, either.

When tablets arrive, what sweet spots will they fill? Michael Arrington wanted one to surf the web lounging on his couch. Web access in small cafes as well? Reading or even writing on buses and trains? It’s possible to use a laptop there, but not always convenient. Presentations and other business meetings in restaurants? I’ve been in meetings recently where someone pulled out hardcopies of mockups or spreadsheets—we both had our laptops, but there was no room for them, and the upright screen on a laptop isn’t ideal for sharing and collaboration across a table.

The top use case for tablets may surprise everyone. Regardless, the winners there—as with any new platform or medium—will not be those who simply bring old experiences to a new space, but those who embrace the differences of the new space and create new experiences there that don’t work elsewhere.

These days I do most of my writing at The Roots of Progress. If you liked this essay, check out my other work there.


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