Victim of Its Own Success – When a Product Is Too Good (the Tablet)

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Most people have a laptop and a smartphone; the tablet is “the third device.” Not owned by everyone, the tablet is like a sibling sandwiched in between a younger (and cooler) smartphone-brother and an older and wealthy laptop-brother. I own and continually use two tablets. When tablets first came out, they set out to replace the laptop. That didn’t happen. Tablets have also taken a hit from phablets – the 6 inch or larger smartphones. A 6 inch smartphone isn’t much smaller than my 7 inch Asus MemoPad.

Tablet sales are continually going down for a few years now. I believe tablets are a victim of their own success – an excellent product with a very high inherent lifecycle.

First, let’s clear up what type of product the tablet is. The tablet is in a totally different space than the laptop or smartphone. The main use for a tablet (at least in my case) is in the family room, as a streaming device and keyboard-less way to browse the web while on the couch. I don’t want even my super thin Ultrabook on my lap all the time – the tablet is a lot more comfortable, and I can walk around with it.

Both of my tablets – Asus MemoPad and Nvidia Shield K-1 (7 and 8 inches) – have the same streaming music apps that I like. One is playing and the other is charging or waiting to be used. 

Streaming music and video, and browsing the web on the couch mean two things:

  1. My tablets never leave the house.
  2. An older tablet can do the job.

My tablets don’t need a screen protector – they live the good life, at home. This reduces wear and tear. If tablets are just as durable as smartphones, then tablets will last 2-5 times longer, as tablets aren’t exposed to the elements or even a backpack.

The tablet lost its battle with the laptop, but won its way to the family room. Streaming content to the TV and light use of Chrome isn’t pushing even an old mobile chip to the limit. You don’t need a $500 tablet; a $200 Android tablet will do the trick – and for years to come. 

In its new role as “home streamer and Chrome”, the tablet is a killer product. You can expect a 5 to 10 year lifecycle - a great ROI on a $140-$200 investment. It is a lot easier to walk around the house with a tablet than a laptop and it rests perfectly in all sorts of places (shelves and stands). You don’t dare rest your laptop in a tight space. Whatever your hobby – art, music, books - the tablet is the perfect companion.

Too perfect. The older of my two tablets is two years old, and is still a spring chicken! It streams high quality music with ease. Moore’s Law is moot with the tablet. Even as better and faster processors find their way to tablets, I won’t be in the market for a new tablet for a long time.

The tablet was meant for one thing, and found its way to a smaller – but still huge - niche. The needs of the tablet’s niche meant that the tablet’s specs are like “everlasting lightbulbs” – a product that lasted too long.


 
 
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Yonatan Levy