Recently I was talking with Paul Graham, of genius startup incubator Y Combinator, for a story, and, while on a tangent, he made a case to the tablet-adverse folks like me. "The tablet, I believe now it's pretty safe to say, is the next model of computer," he said. "I think twenty years from now, kids will say, 'What's a computer?' And we'll say, 'Oh back before you used an iPad or an Android device for browsing the web, you had to use this thing with a keyboard and a big monitor.'" And I was like, really? (People like me, who use computers for text, find this idea slightly scary.) And he was like, yeah, dummy, basically: "It's still risky! But I'm pretty much ready to call it at this point." He also noted that, of startups he has seen, that "five years ago, everyone was starting a web startup. And now they're all—well, not all—they're starting things that build upon tablets." Believe it. So I've tried to pay particular attention to tablets during this CES. There's a ton of them! And I guess I'd better get used to loving them. Actually they're not so scary!
While we wait for the supposedly iterative iPad 2, there is, for instance, the BlackBerry Playbook. There are tons of tablets coming down the pike in various stripes—the Samsung Galaxy Tab (it should be a Mario Kart competitor with that name, maybe?), for instance—and none of them really feel dominant but what'll happen is that they'll all rise together. And you know what? Even the Apple fanboys like the Playbook, mostly.
And the Motorola Xoom, even? Yeah, there's a ton! The HuffPo actually did something useful with a slideshow comparing 11 tablets at the show. Enjoy those pics, some of those you'll never see in the wild, because, what, gosh, hmm.
So in a sense, with all this wild market diversity, I think we can start to see how devices will be devices—phone-tablets, pad-phones, all kinds of things—particularly if we end up with bendable and transparent screens, yes please. And also? They're gonna be so cheap.
As far as everything else, what people love are the smart little things. Like Yorbuds, the world's ugliest and maybe-best in-ear headphones. And? I mean, why didn't this exist already: the iPad game joystick! That is a huge "duh." Possibly you could build it yourself for $3 at the hardware store? But who among us will! Frankly I would also enjoy snow goggles with an HD video camera, because, why not? Totally ludicrous, but rich people need hilarious things too.
Of course, the one thing that gets people of all stripes excited, for whatever reason, is a beautiful TV. People are predictable in this fashion! So it's not surprising to hear things like this:
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