This might seem like a strange argument to make at this time. Last week, HP killed the TouchPad, surrendering in the face of the iPad juggernaut. An 8/19 NYTimes headline reads "As PCs Wane, Companies Look to Tablets" -- for an article that looks ahead to coming tablets from Amazon and Sony.
The iPad seems to be everywhere. People bring these things to conferences and campus meetings. Walk from one end of campus to the other, be sure to walk through the library, and count up how many students toting iPad users you observe.
Could it be that all this iPad enthusiasm, all this tablet excitement, is some sort of mass delusion? Or just plain bad group decision making?
2 devices have brought me to the conclusion that tablets aren't really worth the money:
SmartPhones: I was an iPad owner long before I was an iPhone person. Once I got the iPhone, the iPad started to get left behind. A small screen is really a small price to pay for the mobility and cellular connectivity of an iPhone (or Android phone). E-mail works just fine. If the mobile app is done well then reading web content is no problem. The Kindle reader and Netflix streaming work just fine. My WiFi iPad 2 is too big and too web disconnected.
UltraBooks: Good things about the iPad include its weight (light), instant on operating system, long batter life, and intuitive touch interface. These are all great attributes. But couldn't they all be replicated by an ultrabook? We are just starting to see a new generation of ultra lightweight and super thin laptops. The MacBook Air is probably the best example today, and more will be coming this year. The next generation Google Chromebook has the potential to be really amazing, taking the best features of the Android tablet OS and merging them with a full-fledged keyboard. (I'm hoping that the Chromebook 2 comes soon and gets considerably lighter and thinner).
Conclusion. If you are planning some big campus innovative project around tablet computing, perhaps reconsider. If you are wondering if you should spend your money (or your departmental budget) on computers, smartphones, or tablets - don't choose the tablet. And maybe, just maybe, the wisdom of the market (iPads rule), gets it wrong.
Are you an iPad skeptic as well?