The most important thing about Apple’s iPad and the forthcoming HP Slate computer is that they could go on to become the tipping point that drives touch computing into the mainstream calculus of personal computing.
Market analysts I’ve learned to trust over the years have recently boldly predicted that by 2015, most of the personal computers sold and in common use will be equipped with touch sensitive screens. Their predictions are screamingly at odds with comments as recent as one year ago, when most analysts still thought of touch computing as a very thin slice of the overall PC marketplace pie.
I suspect that it’s not just Apple and the iPad that’s forcing a change in analysts’ visions of the future marketplace.
As someone who’s been committed to this most personal of all interface technologies, this news is more than just an affirmation of my own follow-your-own-dream-of-computing, it’s a sign that some very smart futurists are at long last taking a look at emerging technologies and how they affect users.
To begin with, touch computing is emerging at a time when memory and screen costs are at a low point. Secondly, the underpinnings of touch computing are present at the level of the basic operating system—it no longer carries separate premium pricing.
Once the foundation is in the operating system and available to users, it’s up to software developers and hardware makers to drive users to the new paradigm.
The long march to touch computing is going to happen, but it’s going to take dedicated evangelism from hardware makers willing to work with technical computing solution providers such as those that serve the engineering and diagnostic medical professions. It’s not hard to imagine touch computing interface computers being used to pioneer new surveying, civil engineering or other professions and then working their way into educational institutions that feed those fields.
I’m particularly vocal about touch computing as an aid to the handicapped. I’m left hand dominate but lost fine motor skills on that side of my body as a result of a stroke. I use touch enabled all in one desktops and convertible laptops to pay my bills and sign important documents. Without the technology, I’d be much less independent than I am today.
The dawn of touch computing may be closer than you think. By the end of his year there will likely be as many as 10 new tablet and touch enabled computers. And there not going to be limited to devices from Apple, HP and Lenovo. You’ll see Acer, ASUS and at least one major direct channel player hit the market with products in the next several quarters. And after that, it’s going to become part of the everyday PC market.
So be prepared to reach out and touch your computer, soon.—Jim Forbes on 04/15/2010.