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Tablets predicted to replace notebooks

by Scott Bicheno on 5 July 2011, 12:44

Tags: Mubaloo, General Business

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App 2.0

While ‘applications' have been around for decades, it's only really since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 that we've been using the term ‘apps' to describe applications that run on modern mobile platforms.

But since then the term has become ubiquitous and, according to Mark Mason - the CEO of business app developer Mubaloo - the rise of the app has only just begun.

"We're moving to app 2.0, where companies are starting to really understand apps. It's not a matter of if, but when," said Mason, in an interview with mobile-device.biz. "It's clear to me that everyone's going this way - consumers are demanding it."

Mason thinks the current situation is analogous to the situation we were in with the Internet a decade or so ago. Back then all companies knew they needed to be online, but a lot of them weren't sure what form that should take or it would benefit their business.

Mubaloo was founded in April 2009 after Mason sold his marketing agency. He then teamed up with CTO Ben Trewhella (pictured, below right, with Mason) who had developed an app that provided price information about local petrol stations. The company specialises in developing apps for businesses, which usually either take the form of external branding apps and internal organisational tools.



There's almost no limit to the things companies could potentially have apps for; from training, to HR matters, to scheduling, to sales tools. We remarked that not many people would be keen on taking up most of their smartphone homescreen real-estate with company apps. "For businesses we create app corridors, where one app opens up access to a number of others," replied Mason.

The first raft of business apps made by for the insurance and spread-betting industries. Betting is big for apps as it's an impulse-purchase. Now the most popular type of app is one that integrates into back-office systems, for example logistics. "These days everyone always has a smartphone with them, so they're great for mobile collaboration and location-based apps," said Mason.

But Mason's vision for tablets is no less lofty. "Tablets are going to take over the laptop in my opinion; the user experience is moving to touch and tablets are already being used a lot as a presentation tool," he said. The screenshot below is from an app Mubaloo developed for UK commercial radio company Global Radio as a presentation tool for its salespeople.



Clearly iOS is the biggest platform for Mubaloo right now, but Mason stressed Android is pretty big too and he expects Windows phone to make a move soon. "Windows will be the third mobile platform, but while we're starting to see it come through slowly, there's not a lot of demand for it right now."

We also discussed the relative merits of native apps versus web apps. Native apps will always get the nod if you want to take advantage of the full functionality of the mobile device, as they're written specifically for the platform. On the flip-side, since web apps are accessed through the browser they're cross platform. Furthermore they sidestep the need to pay the platform-holder a cut of every sale.

While someone who earns their living from developing apps is bound to talk up the potential of that market, it's hard to argue with Mason's assertion that we're on the cusp of app 2.0. Modern mobile platforms are still very young, and their growth only went exponential in the past year or so. As the installed-based approaches ubiquity more money than ever is likely to be invested in apps.


HEXUS Forums :: 5 Comments

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Wasn't the same said about netbooks? If I remember correctly, that didn't happen, so I doubt it will happen in this case either - especially if the pricing is at the level where a notebook would be much more powerful and feature-rich, and therefore a wiser investment to make.
No chance. I've got a cheap tablet - its great for browsing and gaming but not much else - You need a keyboard to make it really useful so why not buy a netbook/laptop for similar cash?
No chance. I've got a cheap tablet - its great for browsing and gaming but not much else - You need a keyboard to make it really useful so why not buy a netbook/laptop for similar cash?
I've got an even cheaper tablet (it came free with my printer) and tbh I've used it as a Kindle more than anything else (although checking the BBC News headlines and the weather comes in at positions 2 and 3). But you're 100% correct on that first bit - a tablet on it's own is a consumption device, add a keyboard and you can finally start creating (and anyone who points out that there's on-screen keyboards deserves a slap). That's why I think the EEE Transformer is the best of bunch available at the moment - not only does it have a keyboard dock, but that dock acts as supplementary battery. Compare with Apple, Samsung, etc who also have keyboards, but they drain battery - because they're usually connected via Bluetooth.

And here I agree with your last bit - the EEE (+dock) is £429, which is the same price as a Dell Inspiron 15R. And as far as I can see, the only advantages of the EEE combo are: faster boot (arguable?); much lighter weight; much smaller. Conversely the Inspiron is a lot more flexible, bigger screen, more powerful, and has a shedload more storage.

Getting back to the article, netbooks probably will be killed by tablets, and the low-end notebooks might be killed by effective tablet+keyboard combo's. But I'd suggest that the medium to high end are perfectly safe. That said, I've seen article's suggesting that a quad-core EEE Transformer is due, that could be a game changer, certainly for the folks who don't have huge performance needs.

Oh, and by the way, I don't work for Asus. ;)
Anyone that's read what I've said before will know I'm a huge fan of the concept of the tablet, and that I think they have a potentially huge future. There's some overlap with notebooks, sure, but as far as I'm concerned, they're different devices for largely different purposes. The reasons I'd want a tablet and the reasons I'd want a laptop are different as, largely, are the uses to which they'd be put.

Given the current state of the technology, a tablet will never replace a laptop for me. A tablet and a netbook might, but a tablet won't. If, in the (Star Trek era) future, tablets have the power for good, strong effective and accurate voice recognition, control and dictation, polished and effective enough to be real-world useful, then maybe a tablet could replace a laptop. Dragon Dictate is pretty good now, given a powerful PC. So who knows?

But right now, laptops and tablets are like a Ferrari and a people-carrier. Both are great at what they do, and they have similarities and an overlap, but neither is a replacement for the other.
Given the current state of the technology, a tablet will never replace a laptop for me. A tablet and a netbook might, but a tablet won't.
Indulge my curiosity, but how come a tablet+netbook could be a valid laptop replacement (sorry, but I really don't like the term “notebook”)? What I'm not seeing is how adding a netbook (which are usually low powered devices) could make up for whatever deficiencies a tablet has. The only thing I could come up with is that netbooks (generally speaking) come with Windows whereas, apart from the Acer Iconia, you don't get Windows on a tablet.

In which case, (if it is lack of Windows), would the combination of an Iconia W plus keyboard not be approaching that magic tipping point?

Based on my use of a low-powered tablet, the addition of a decent keyboard to a good spec one would definitely allow me to ditch the netbook. Although my netbook (running Ubuntu) does allow use as a shared device (because it supports separate user accounts), something that I doubt any tablet could do - which is a shame because it'd be a handy way to “justify” an expensive piece of tech (because it's a "family" device). :D