Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Steve Rubel Stream: Three Trends Slates Will Accelerate

A little over a week ago I moved my MacBook Air off my desk at home and jumped in using a slate to cover 90% of my work/personal needs (basically I just use my laptop to manage the slate). In the office, I only used my HP desktop for complex tasks that required it - like PowerPoint.

My verdict: if you are a knowledge worker and your computing needs center mostly around the web and text, as mine do, slates are ready for prime time. I am going to continue using my iPad as my primary device. And I hope to try HP's slate when it comes out (HP is an Edelman client).

I believe the slate format is the future - perhaps not mainstream today, but they will be soon. However, as the slates take off they're going to have an impact on marketing and media as well. Here are the three trends that I believe the format will accelerate...

1) Media Reforestation

Media is in a rapid state of evolution as consumption moves from atoms (e.g. print) to bits. I believe all tangible forms of media - everything you can see, touch, taste and smell - will be in sharp decline or extinct by 2012 in the US, and eventually globally.

Mobile devices, especially slates, are going to accelerate this trend. The experience of reading the Wall Street Journal on the iPad is better than the web site or the print edition. If News Corp. prices it reasonably, I will subscribe. I believe many millions will too.

Everyday a newsprint reader dies and is not replaced. However, newspaper readers will be around forever and slates give the medium a real shot in the arm. However, that's not to say there won't be pain - the economics are different.

2) The Attention Crash

On my iPad right now I have four feature-length movies, 2500 songs, two email accounts, Facebook, Twitter, six ebooks, dozens of articles I want to read (thank you Instapaper!), many news apps, games and more.

Now I am an extreme information junkie. Not everyone is. But these devices put infinite choices at our disposal. Yet the fact remains, we only have one brain.

We're deep into a crisis of attention. Slates will accelerate attention apnea. We will start and stop tasks, jumping from one to the other. The end result, more media snacking, fewer meals, And when we do consume meals, it maybe quality content like movies, news apps and TV shows that reign. Time will tell.

3) Work-Life Blending

The great thing about slates is the value they offer for the cost - $500 - as well as in their portability. This week I attended several meetings inside and outside the firm and I spotted iPads at every single one. Yesterday I attended a brainstorm at a major NGO that included people from around the globe. At one table of six there I saw four iPads. Most of these devices I suspect were purchased by individuals not their employers.

Slates, like instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook and the like, are going to sneak into corporations via the back door, though I suspect some employers will buy them for knowledge workers.

The trend here to note is that these devices blend our work/personal lives. Slates didn't cause blending but as more of us bring them to work, it accelerates. IT managers will need to provide sound guidance to ensure these devices and smart phones protect corporate information, while not stifling productivity. A byproduct: this is will likely encourage companies to become more social since slates and smart phones bring social networking deep inside the firewall.

That's what I see in my crystal ball. Slates largely accelerate trends that smart phones started. Now I may be wrong of course. Time will tell. But I see a lot of promise for these devices and potentially many winners, not just Apple.
The Steve Rubel Stream

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