Steve Cavrak wrote:
> IBM, for example, has taken the position that they won't
> be buliding a tablet pc - "who needs one?"
A funny position from IBM to be certain. Just last year they were
trying to sell their "paradigm-shifting" Transnote ThinkPad:
"IBM has established a new standard for mobile computing with the
ThinkPad TransNote," said Tim Bajarin, president, Creative Strategies,
Inc. "The TransNote represents the best of IBM innovation in providing
users with a new paradigm and a unique way of doing business."
Says one PC Magazine reader:
"...FOR THE MONEY IT IS A REAL GREATE (sic) BUY."
Transnote was a "convertible" pen computer with an attached digitizer
pad. The pen held real ink (in proprietary IBM ink cartridges) in
addition to working in pure-digitizer mode. You could put a
(proprietary IBM) paper pad on top of the digitizer and capture notes
both on paper and in memory.
The "Transnote" featured a 10" 800X600 display, 10Gb drive, and PIII 600
Despite performance that comes about as close to "breakneck" as a snail
does to mach-1, the total lack of any integrated handwriting recognition
software, and a lot of the usual complaints about "StinkPad proprietary
technology", the Transnote was well reviewed; it even garnered the
"BusinessWeek Product of the Year" award in 2001. So why did it fail to
1. Price started at $3000... pretty hefty!
2. Performance: The touchscreen was sluggish at sampling data and the
pen was too sensitive, and the display was tiny. Stock processor and
memory were quite small for the era, battery life was substandard (less
than two hours!).
3. Failure to meet expectations: IBM designed the product for people
who "really like paper", but really failed to offer anything beyond what
a $100 scanner or photocopier can do. Real paper lovers would stick
with paper... it costs less! Text weenies would fail to see the point
of saving paper notes.
Modern Tablet PC manufacturers learned from these mistakes. Tablets are
available starting under $2000, and most of them perform pretty well.
But most importantly, new Tablets feature the XP Tablet PC OS which
finally bridges ink to text. Both the convertible and slate models can
bridge that gap. In my mind neither is the toy that was the Transnote.
IBM refused to acknowledge that they made a mistake. They blamed the
consumer claiming that "the market was not ready for this innovative
device". I could understand that they might want to wait out the first
wave of tablets so that they can develop a marketing strategy for later
releases. However, their "blame the customer" attitude really says it
all... they are either unwilling or unable to gage the actual demands
of consumers, and they will miss out on the Tablet PC. Too bad for you,
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