On the eve of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, tablet mania is hitting a fever pitch. We may see dozens of tablets launched this week alone, many from the biggest brands in computing such as Lenovo, HTC and Asus. The presumed Apple (AAPL) version in particular allegedly is going to become the new iPhone, changing our lives forever like a Messiah. The lines will go around the blocks. It feels like real estate pre-construction mania all over again.
(See all our CES 2010 coverage.)
Before we swallow the new tablet religion lock, stock and barrel, however, let's ask some basic questions:
- What will it do that the current smartphones and laptops don't do?
- Where will it be used?
- Who will afford it?
What will it do that's new? Most people who are the intended purchasers of a new tablet are allegedly already owners of an iPhone, Research In Motion's (RIMM) BlackBerry or whatever, plus a laptop. We can read the news on smartphones and laptops alike -- either by going to the Web sites or by using an RSS reader such as Viigo. If we want to read a book, Amazon (AMZN), Barnes & Noble (BKS) and Sony (SNE) already have the electronic book readers. It's far from clear what the functionality will be requiring a tablet.
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