“And I’m like: Hey, Over Here, I Like the Cheese!”
I was at a conference last week, one where they usually have a nice give-away for the attendees. Since I actually was a full attendee (I’m usually at conferences on a speaker pass or something where I don’t get the cool schwag), I was anticipating a cool bag that I could use for day trips or maybe a messenger-style carrier that I could have for better ergonomics. Of course, I always fall back to my fifteen pounds of crud stuffed in the nice bag my wife got for me, but I digress…
So as I was checking in, I got handed a very nice little folio, with a built-in space for an iPad or other tablet and an attractively-logoed pointer device perfect, I say PERFECT, for tablets and smart-phones. I walked over to my buddy, who was also checking in, and I said something to the effect of, “Well, we know what they think of laptops now.”
(Obvious disclaimer: I work for a company that has a pretty serious influence over the laptop industry, and we do make stuff for tablets as well. I’m representing my own world of opinion and observation here.)
If you read the news today, you see a sampling of how Amazon and Apple are in a war of words over a new 7″ form factor, and how Microsoft is still trying to be relevant in a new space with OS and toys. I’m sure I could even dig around more and find lots of stories about where the new smart phone from Samsung is beating the tar out of the new smart phone from Apple… and to a computer guy like me, I just feel left on the side of the road.
There are some really cool innovations happening in the laptop industry, many driven by the adoption of smaller and lighter form factors elsewhere. And while I continue to see people on the airplanes with a pad rather than a clamshell, I don’t see a long down-turn for the PC as it is. There’s a swoon these days around a perfect storm of product misses, and that’s one that’s hurting all the companies involved, but I’m not hearing a broad rush in the industry that leads me to think that IT shops are abandoning the PC and instead adopting the Mac, let alone the iPad. Sure, there are people trying the experience, but that’s a tech-driven movement, not something that I’m (yet) seeing from the standard knowledge worker.
Still, there’s obviously been a miss by the entire PC industry on “what’s cool.” I can recall when the iPhone came out that people at multiple companies I work with said that it could never be a corporate device, that it was a toy, etc. Well, they forgot that the youth vote matters, and the new workforce drove the cool factor to the older workforce, and the workforce changed overall. Now people carry a smart phone and a laptop, and some are also carrying the tablet.
Me? I’m the luddite who still holds onto the dumb phone (mine has a Cingular logo on it, that’s how old it is) and who goes to the laptop for everything. But I know I’m not the leader. I utilize my current technology to its fullest, rather than trying to learn six new things. I have a co-worker who is the opposite, and he appears to be thriving in productivity, so I’m not immune to the draw.
But to me, it’s interesting how the industry missed a competitor. At some point, as Christensen says, the competition got “good enough” and it displaced the incumbents. Let’s see how the incumbent industry gets mad and wins those hearts and minds back.