Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop


Forgot your password?
Handhelds Software Hardware

VisiCalc's Dan Bricklin On the Tablet Revolution 185

snydeq writes "Dan Bricklin, the co-creator of the PC revolution's killer app, weighs in on the opportunities and oversights of the tablet revolution. 'In some sense, for tablets the browser is a killer app. Maps is a killer app to some extent. Being able to share the screen with other people — that it's a social device — also might fit the bill. I think that for tablets, there isn't and won't be one killer app for everyone. It's more that there are apps that are killers for individual people. It's the sum of all those that is the killer app. This has been true since the original Palm Pilot.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

VisiCalc's Dan Bricklin On the Tablet Revolution

Comments Filter:
  • 5 years later (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:24PM (#39365651) Homepage

    5 years later, the first lawsuits began. They were small ones at first, easily dealt with. However over time, they began to merge, and become larger.

    The lawsuit's content? Repetitive Stress Injury, from using a tablet for more than an hour a day. With a regular computer, you have a mechanical or membrane keyboard cushioning your fingers, allowing you to work for hours without ill-effects (allowing for a standard positioning of hands). Tablets, on the other hand, have a hard glass screen which you are tapping away at. It will later be revealed that the executives of these prominent companies had performed studies that showed RSI would become an issue after too much use, but went ahead with the product's launch anyway.

    Among the suffering were legions of secretaries, data entry specialists, and college students. Programmers, despite their fondness for technology, were not readily known to suffer from this injury, as they are far enough off the fashion wagon to plug an ugly keyboard into a tablet when needed.

  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:24PM (#39365655) Homepage
    I don't think they will be doomed. Eventually the processor, the display, and everything else will be "good enough" for anything anybody wants to use a tablet for. The the prices will start to come down. Already you can get some seriously overspec'ed tablets for $300. What happens with the iPad 3 level of tablet only costs $300, or even $200. It will end up becoming something that just about everyone has, like a DVD player, or an MP3 player, or a TV. People will just buy them because even something really cheap will be something that accomplishes quite a bit.
  • by alen ( 225700 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:25PM (#39365669)

    i have a netbook.
      it goes everywhere i go.
      i sleep with it.
      i shower next to it.
      i take it to the bathroom with me to pass the time.
      i can do anything i want on it

    i can code a new OS or the latest game on my netbook
    i can play real games on it
    flash lets me surf the nastiest pr0n sites

    why do i need a tablet?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:31PM (#39365765)

    they're basically more limited multipurpose computing devices.

    That is exactly why they are NOT doomed. Most people do not want, and never wanted, a "multipurpose computing device". Most people wanted a limited, easy to use, safe content consumption device. That's what a tablet gives them.

    Make no mistake: tablets will take over as the world's primary computing device. If you do not see this, you do not understand human nature.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:39PM (#39365893)

    I find the form factor to be the "killer app". Holds/handles like a book, but does much of what you might want to do on a computer, without having the awkwardness of even an ultralight laptop.

    I get into countless arguments with people who INSIST that a laptop/netbook/macbook air is "the same" but that just hasn't been my experience in trying to sit on the couch, fly on a plane, ride in a car, etc and use the same devices.

    There's no debate that those platforms have greater computing potential (keyboard/mouse, OS choices, HDD, yadda yadda). But they all still need to be opened up, generally lack the battery life of an iPad (even my 2 year old iPad 1 still goes 2-3 days without needing charging) and just aren't as physically useful as a tablet.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:44PM (#39365985) Homepage

    I won't write my thesis on an iPad (although along with a wireless keyboard it has more memory, a better screen, better performance and more storage than the Otrona Attache that I did write my thesis on - ah, Wordstar....) but I would use it to look up patient med lists, vital signs and the like.

    The electronic clipboard is really here. Don't underestimate clipboards.

  • by gravyface ( 592485 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:45PM (#39365991)
    ...longer than a search query in Google. And then you reach for your terrible Bluetooth keyboard/dock with it's equally-terrible leatherette cover and try to juggle the thing on your lap, all the while wondering why you didn't just get a thin laptop or a netbook.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:18PM (#39366589)

    Tablets don't deliver novel features.

    Touch is inherently a novel form of interaction with computers. Until now direct touch has been rare.

    They are the following: slightly less complicated to use for simple applications, and still a novelty

    Allow me to update your list:

    They are the future.

    They are pretty much doomed in the middle term.

    Translation: The future will hit you like a Mac Truck.

    There isn't a "killer app" because they're basically more limited multipurpose computing devices.

    Spoken like someone forcefully unwilling to see a fundamental change in process because you fear it..

    You fear change, you fear a means of interaction that you find comfortable with going forward.

    You don't think of it as fears but your post is full of the kind of denial only fear can bring.

    The truth is that direct touch is a very powerful form of interaction with computers. It is more friendly for the average person and so tasks that people want to accomplish with computers will migrate to be done with touch.

    What you really fail to understand is that touch is not "more limited". It's simply different. It does some things worse than a keyboard or mouse, yes, but on the other hand it does some things better.

    And the thing is, people using computing devices through touch. Regardless which side of UI "wins" by any measure you care to put forward, it is irrelevant because people will buy touch devices and things that run on them.

    If you have not seen an 80-year old, or a three year old with an iPad you are really missing a lot of understanding.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:32PM (#39366875) Homepage

    had exactly the same product been made by HP or Dell

    Well, therein lies the rub.

    We all saw the HP tablet -- it was a dog that eventually HP themselves was selling for about $99 to their employees to clear it out.

    My brother's tiny little off-name Android tablet is cool enough, but has a fairly low-res display and seemed to have some warts (the clock stops when it's turned off, I kid you not; how hard is it to keep the clock going?). Can't speak to the Samsung or other Android based tablets since I've never had a chance to play with one.

    My wife's Playbook -- well, the browser crashes all of the time, there's not much software available for it, and usually when she turns it on she has to wrestle with it to get it to connect to our wi-fi, or occasionally hard-boot it as the whole thing locks up. She's getting to the point where she might stop using it. Which is sad, because when I bought it for her at Christmas, it was a really sweet deal and thought she'd get some use out of it.

    What Apple did was to actually produce a polished product that worked when they released it. Microsoft is playing "me too" as usual and trying to build something. HP released a turd and then discontinued it. RIM hasn't yet caught up yet. The Android marketplace comprises so many different devices that I'm not even sure you can compare them to themselves.

    So, I'm just not convinced that another of the candidates could have released "exactly the same product" ... because they don't seem to be doing it yet. I will say this for Apple, by the time they release it, it actually has been tested and works. A lot of products get released which shouldn't be considered anything more than a beta release.

  • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @01:47PM (#39367185) Journal

    You're missing the point. You can connect all the peripherals you want, when you want them

    But you're still hobbled by a toy UI. Real work requires crossreferencing data, literature, documentation, and your own notes. This isn't feasible on a tablet.

    That seems to be the model people want.

    I'm not surprised that people want tablets. They're toys. People like toys.

  • Re:Not any more (Score:5, Insightful)

    by damnbunni ( 1215350 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:01PM (#39367469) Journal

    The problem with reading books on an LCD display isn't the resolution. It's the fact you're staring at a light bulb the whole time.

    My e-ink reader is only 600 x 800, no higher a DPI than some of my LCD-screened gizmos, but it's FAR easier on the eyes.

    Also, I fail to understand why 'touch interaction' matters. My reader has a button for next page and a button for previous page, well placed, and a D-pad for navigating menus. What more does it need?

  • by decsnake ( 6658 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:16PM (#39367757) Homepage

    those horseless carriages are just overpriced toys and they'll never amount to anything. For serious work, I'll take a horse and carriage any day!

    seriously, you guys ought to listen to yourselves sometime.

  • Re:Size Matters (Score:4, Insightful)

    by quacking duck ( 607555 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:26PM (#39367941)

    For me personally, the Swiss army knife (smartphone) is just fine.

  • by UnknowingFool ( 672806 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:58PM (#39368441)

    Secondly, Apple... they are masters of marketting. They took the tablet, a tool for geeks, and made it cool. Their brand alone sold the iPad - had exactly the same product been made by HP or Dell, it'd never have caught on so well.It's possible that just the power of their marketing could get tablets established long enough to stick.

    People who still reduce Apple's strength(s) to marketing will never understand why they have been successful. Apple has always been about polish. Geeks here on Slashdot might put up with mundane tasks to get something working but the general public does not. Every step it takes to do something makes it a negative in their mind.

    I had a Diamond Rio player when the first iPod came out. Technically it was a higher capacity version of the Rio if you want to reduce it down. But in the mundane daily tasks of operation, the iPod kicked the crap out of it.

    To rip and encode MP3s required me to find and use two different programs. Apple had iTunes. To sync my device required multiple steps and another program. Even then you could mess up the syncing. With iPod, just plug it to your computer.

    When I got an iPod around 2005, my brother got a Dell MP3 player. At the time he disparaged my choice. A year later I asked him where his Dell was. He kept it in a drawer because it was too much of a hassle to keep it synced/use it. I used my iPod for years until I replaced it with a smart phone.

  • by painandgreed ( 692585 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @09:37PM (#39372973)

    People who still reduce Apple's strength(s) to marketing will never understand why they have been successful.

    Here I want to both agree with you and disagree with you. That people who reduce Apple's strengths to Marketing will never understand why they are successful is true, but not because that is false, but because they have no idea of what marketing is. Marketing is not advertising. Marketing also includes figuring out what the market wants, building a good product to appease the market, and then presenting it, including advertising, to the market so they buy it. It is a combination of telling the people what they want along with the fact that it is actually what they want. Apple is successful 'because of marketing', but the people who use that phase usually have no idea what even wikipedia says about 'Marketing".

An elephant is a mouse with an operating system.