It’s rumoured that Apple is introducing a tablet device next week, possibly called the ‘iPad’. The iPad will bridge the gap between the iPhone and the MacBook, offering a large touchscreen and fancy user interface. At first we thought this was an absolutely daft idea that would cannibalise existing Apple products but then we realised that the ‘sofa surfer’ market is growing really quickly.
The battle for global tech domination isn’t being fought on the streets or in the office, it’s being fought on people’s sofas. For decades TVs have dominated living rooms but the introduction of wireless internet access dramatically changed home entertainment. It’s becoming common to watch TV and use the Internet at the same time, and in some cases the Internet has replaced traditional TV viewing altogether.
People’s desire to use the Internet around their homes has created a thriving laptop market but laptops can be expensive, large and cumbersome to hold and use. One solution is to buy a netbook, the laptop’s smaller cousin, but many netbooks under-deliver and not everyone enjoys using a smaller keyboard. Another option is to get a smart phone, such as the iPhone, which offers almost everything you need.
There are several advantages of using an iPhone as your ‘couch computer’: The user interface is perfect for casual use, it’s always on so you don’t have to wait for it to boot up and it’s a lot lighter than a laptop or netbook. The disadvantage of using an iPhone as your couch computer is that compared to a laptop the iPhone’s screen is a lot smaller, so watching YouTube videos, for example, is less enjoyable.
Enter the iPad. Over the past few weeks we’ve discussed the concept of the iPad with several people and ignoring the Apple fans who buy any Apple product that comes out, we’ve discovered that there is a significant demand for a slick portable web browser to be used at home. We might not buy one and we suspect that initially this won’t be a huge market but contrary to our initial beliefs the iPad isn’t daft after all.
[Image from Flickr user Orin Zebest]