Overlooked Value - The Untold Tablet Story

Tablet Story Untold.jpg

A couple months ago, I came across this article on Linkedin pronouncing the death of tablets.  I was a tad riled up.  Why?  I had spent three months studying tablets to determine the best model for me and was in the initial week of using it.  Now I had to fight off buyers remorse.  I couldn't imagine how this brilliant product solution was dying off.  Yet, at the same time, the article made perfect sense.  My adoration for my new gadget was out of novelty, yet my favorite features were old technology.  Yes, tablets are unpopular. People fail to see their true value. I was once in that camp. Yet, I see this a fault of poor marketing, and not the symptom of a poor product.

I remember when Apple released the first iPad. My reaction was general confusion, mild discomfort, and uncertainty about what to say.  The whole concept of a tablet made no sense.  "Congratulations," I thought, "you made a larger iPhone that can't make calls."  I couldn't understand why anyone wouldn't buy a laptop.  It seems this was the predominant reaction, and I see no evidence to suggest a shift in perception.  The tablet is a sort of orphaned technology.  It's regarded as a luxury entertainment item.  It's as if the product was made for an unspecified user, for unspecified uses.

And there lies the problem.  The biggest brands of our time are failing to tell their product's story.  This is typical of tech product copy. The focus is on the features and specs, not what they allow us (the customer) to do, nor how they solve our problems.  The strategy is: list the bells and whistles, make them sound important, and people will want it. Right?

Let me back up a second.  Why did I want a tablet in the first place?  My wife wanted to give me a meaningful birthday gift.  She noticed I was straining my eyes watching videos and reading on my iPhone, and her heart went out to me. I'm a gear nut, so she had me do the research.  Now, I wanted a tablet that would serve more than a media consumption tool.  My wife wanted to treat me, and I wanted to make her investment count.  Thus began my extensive search for a product best suited for my needs.  I wanted to know if a tablet was a useful productivity tool.

I'm a strategist, storyteller, and video marketer.  I wrote in notebooks all the time.  I used the Moleskine notebooks with Pilot Precise V7 pens.  Side track: those pens are AMAZING. I love the way the ink glides out of the pen onto the page.  I am also a HUGE fan of whiteboards (due to a similar flow reason).  They're great ways to communicate an idea to a client or your team.  This was my process for doing that:

1) Write out idea.

2) Pull out my phone

3) Take a photo of the whiteboard or page.

4) Deliver the image either via text or upload to the cloud. 

Now, proceeding this process is an emotional dilemma. I would experience 5-10 seconds of anxiety.  I had to determine if this idea was either worth sacrificing a piece or paper or erasing the whiteboard.

The tablet I ultimately chose was the Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S-Pen.  My wife giggles at how long it takes me to say the name.  So I shortened it to "tab", which she also finds amusing.  Anyway, it's awesome!  What I discovered is this tablet is a productivity maximizer!  Of course, being a tablet it's more convenient for reading and watching videos than my phone.  But, that is not it's chief value.  It's a digital Swiss army knife. It synthesized all my work tools into a single piece of gadgetry.

The first thing it replaced was my notebooks.  I would carry three notebooks in my bag: one to track my time, one for project notes, and an idea journal.  With the tablet's S-Pen technology, I can write on the screen with incredible accuracy.  The experience is very similar to writing on a whiteboard.  All I needed was a journal app and time-tracking software, and the notebooks disappeared.

Let's go back to the four step whiteboard process I explained above. Here's that process with my tab:

1) Write out idea.

2) Deliver idea via email or the cloud. 

And here's the best part: it eliminated my anxiety about where to write the idea! I open the tablet and write the idea.  There are no pages anymore!  My tablet is digital paper!

Two months later, my tab has replaced my laptop with the addition of a Bluetooth keyboard.  I was using a Macbook Air, but only needed it for research and writing. This tablet is lighter, smaller, less expensive, yet equal in functionality (for my use, of course).

Let that sink in.  I would fill up a notebook within 2 months.  That's over $120 a year for notebooks.  I was using a laptop priced over $1000.  And I replaced them with a sub $350 tablet and a $30 keyboard.

So here I was in this state of productivity ecstasy when I read that anti-tablet article.  Thus my aggravation. Because I know other people are missing out on this joy. And the marketing minds behind these devices are to blame. It's obvious there's a failure to recognize it's potential.  I doubt they understand what a tablet is, what it could be. It's not promoted as something that's needed.  I do most of my work on cloud based solutions.  I don't need the use of graphic intensive software when I'm on the go.  I need a way to research, communicate ideas, take notes, etc.  That's what my tablet, and similar models, excels at.  There's a whole market out there in need of a tool like this.  I'm talking about writers, marketers, business leaders, strategists, and innovators.  Yet it's a missed opportunity.  These people don't hear the story that will drive them to buy. That's why tablets are failing.