It’s not the devices, it’s the gaps


So now that the iPad craziness has blown over, want to comment on yet another disruptive product from Apple. This time we’re in a “tween” segment, or somewhere between your desktop/laptop, your mobile, your e-reader…. Wow, a lot of devices to carry right? And where does the iPad fit, or for that matter, where do any of your current devices fit in relationship to it?

There is a lot going on these days with companies abstracting the traditional PC experience away from devices to create targeted customer user experiences. Sometimes this is due to hardware restrictions in smaller underpowered devices (phones, e-readers), sometime it’s due to creating more portable entertainments platforms for folks to consume content with (netbooks, litl). The problem is, each of these devices meet only some of a customer’s needs at a premium price. Some customers don’t want a to use a PC for glance content, but may prefer the litl for it’s large format, channel content delivery. Some customers won’t read a book or watch a movie on their iPhone, but the iPad might be perfect for that. Some folks want to run Word or Blog, but prefer a keyboard rather than a tocuhscreen. So you have all these different devices that do these things at a different efficiency level. To many devices and too many segments/needs to serve.

In essence, it feels like the iPad will be a niche product, but falls far short of a convergence device. The good thing about it is that it will force the carriers to adopt more affordable data plans. It will also force the lower end devices like the Nook and the Kindle to become cheaper. Frankly, both these devices look overpriced compared to what you get for your $499 iPad. Either way it still feels like we’re in the days where you needed to carry your laptop, pda, mp3 player, and camera. Too many to devices to serve all your needs.


4 thoughts on “It’s not the devices, it’s the gaps

  1. Hi Rob, an interesting piece. At litl we evolved some specific ideas about this while developing our product. We agree with those that say the long-awaited “media convergence” is happening on the web rather than on hardware. Attempts at so-called hardware convergence have tended to fail, rather like some sofa beds that are neither good sofas nor decent beds. The web is the new platform and is where everything, including media, is moving. Media gets adapted to the web so that it presents correctly – witness the staggering growth in online video/tv. So we decided the litl webbook had a specific set of use cases and lived in a particular environment – the home – and would not try to be an all-things-to-everyone netbook. Instead it would cater to that environment, not be a hunk-me-around road device, be about simpler use of the web, and provide a channels platform to help package appropriate content so it would be as fun to use as our easy UI. It’s not surprising that web devices are specializing rather than converging, since specialized devices can dispense with much that creates bloat and work on a general purpose device. We don’t expect most people to carry the litl around in lieu of their netbook/laptop – they probably already have one of those.

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