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February - 2010 - issue > Entrepreneur 101
Apple-Tablet-Why-is-it-a-Big-Deal?
Gunjan Sinha
Monday, February 1, 2010
For many of the technology enthusiasts, the launch of Apple iPad is quite a landmark event this week. There is a popular belief that we may be seeing the emergence of a new platform for application developers. The Apple Tablet sits right in between a phone and a laptop, which many believe is a better device than the much touted netbooks in the same price bracket. The reason I wanted to discuss the Apple tablet is to explore some ideas on how this new form factor device might enable new classes of application. It truly can be a game changer – and hence a real opportunity for innovation and startups. I foresee the far reaching impact of devices of this type, creating a whole media consumption experience for global consumers.

First True ‘Lifestyle’ Device

Laptops were invented for productivity, and iphones and smartphones primarily for communication. Each of these devices heralded a whole genre of software applications. Laptops gave birth to a myriad of productivity software back in the late ‘80s and ‘90s. The same is true of the iphone and smartphones around early to mid 2000’s; they led to a large number of ‘mobile’ applications for communication and entertainment.

Tablet form factor is primarily designed for consuming digital media, and therefore for engaging and entertaining yourself. It can be used for productivity or communication, but that is not the primary purpose of this device platform. This genuinely promises to be a lifestyle device.

Emergence of New Class of Web Applications

Software developers and entrepreneurs will see the iPad environment as a very powerful platform to create compelling and entertaining digital media experiences. Movies, music, videos, images, and audio can all be ‘meshed’ together in a new class of interactivity, enabling new forms of media creation. When the print media was invented, it led to books and magazines, television led to the video media, iphone led to a myriad of iphone apps. The Tablet will require a new class of ‘media’ application, which will bring out the entrepreneurial creativity yet again. Killer applications on these lifestyle devices are of course the obvious ones like games, music, movies, and ebooks. But more importantly, the new form factor and the touch screen interaction model will create a whole range of applications that are not obvious to us today.

’Out of the Box’ Thinking Required

Whenever you have a new platform, it requires a fresh thinking and a new approach. This is an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs if one can figure out the ‘out of the box’ idea that creates a compelling application on this platform. For example, can you build applications that will leverage consumer mood and entertain them in a given way, moving the collective ‘mood’ of the crowd in a certain direction? Or can you think of how everyone in the kitchen might use this device collectively or folks who are traveling on trains and consuming a new class of media together? I don’t have the billion dollar idea, but the important theme here is to use this phase shift in the market to rethink how websites are built and used, how Web applications are presented for this lifestyle device, and how consumers might adjust their lifestyles around these devices. It needs rethinking and creativity.

I am personally looking forward to see a whole lot of these iPad applications coming out of the SiliconIndia community, building upon the entrepreneurial energy of this community; but as a consumer I am also looking forward to consume and relish many of these lifestyle applications.

The author is the Chairman of SiliconIndia.com and MetricStream. An internet pioneer, he was the co-founder and President of WhoWhere? Inc., a Internet directory services company acquired by Lycos in 1998 as well as eGain, an online customer service company. Sinha can be reached at gunjan@metricstream.com
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