Mine isn't getting used as much as it used to -- and for some very good reasons. I also am noticing the same thing with the people around me: family, friends, co-workers.
While tablet form-factor computing is now an indelible part of the landscape, have we lost some of our enthusiasm over the last few years?
Tales Of An Early Adopter
I thought -- wow, this is a big deal. It was a completely novel experience, unlike any sort of end-user computing I had been exposed to.
I took my iPad with me everywhere. I got a bunch of accessories. I spent a fair amount of time trying out different applications: productivity, games, etc.
And then -- something changed.
It mostly stays in my travel bag these days, and doesn't get that much use. I still think it's a great product -- I just haven't found myself using it as much.
I look around at meetings. It used to be de rigueur for everyone to be tapping away on tablets -- but there seems to be less of it than before. Some people have moved to phablets -- fat phones -- others are using traditional laptops, their smartphone or -- perish the thought! -- old-fashioned pen and paper.
What might be going on?
Still A Necessary Tool?
When I travel, nothing is better. When I'm stuck in an airport, or some other location without wifi, crack open the iPad and -- voila! -- the web is yours thanks to 3G. It's nice to use on airplanes, and to read during hotel meals, catch up on quick emails, etc.. Battery life is great, etc.
The other use case for me (albeit a niche) is when I'm playing music -- it's great to flip between set lists, charts, click on a link to hear a tune, etc. But I create that content on my laptop, and send it to my iPad.
When I'm not traveling (and have access to wifi), it's always my laptop I go to first: more visual real estate, a real keyboard, a file system, a non-smeary screen, etc. I did get a small keyboard for my iPad, but it doesn't get much use these days either. I found myself abandoning most of the tablet apps as too simplistic for what I needed: games were too simple, note takers not fully featured, etc.
I thought I was sort of alone on this, and then I noticed my family's iPads weren't getting much use, either. My wife prefers her 11" Macbook Air when there's wifi, and is happy with getting Facebook updates and email on her phone when she's on-the-go. She's also taking some on-line courses, and that's a painful experience unless designed specifically for the tablet, and even then ...
My son is a gamer and a college student -- he has no use for a tablet in his world. My oldest daughter is a young professional now, anything serious requires a laptop or a smartphone. And my youngest daughter is an aspiring artist -- she needs a big screen and a drawing pad to do anything at all.
The exception is my youngest niece -- she's seven -- and she adores her iPad. It's probably her most valued possession. The good thing is that now I've got a bunch more for her when she wants them.
Did Apple Seduce Me?
We all know the seductive power of new Apple products -- are they to blame?
No, I'm a responsible adult, and I'm fully responsible for my purchase decisions. And the tablets wouldn't be the first bit of tech gear I've enthusiastically purchased that didn't quite work out as expected.
I think many of us were attracted to the novelty and simplicity of the experience: everything visual, no commands or pointers (other than your finger), everything intuitive, the transportability and packaging, etc.
But novelty can quickly wear off, especially when it comes to tech gadgets. Although I'm dangerously close to getting seduced again :)
Deeper Experiences Require More Horsepower
But I think there's something else going on here as well.
Sure, I casually browse the web like we all do, but much of the time I want to interact more deeply: see everything on the screen, enter some text, open multiple windows, save links, cut-and-paste, send something I've found to someone, etc.
I can do that sort of stuff -- after a fashion -- on a tablet. It just seems to be a lot more cumbersome. If I get into one of those situations while on the iPad (which is frequent), I find myself putting it down, and starting over again on my laptop.
But I rarely put my laptop down to switch to my iPad :)
How About You?
Did you get hooked when iPads and follow-on products hit the market? Did you find yourself using it a lot at the beginning, but less so over time? Or are you still convinced that tablets are now indispensable tools at home and in the workplace?
Certainly, a tablet experience is far more approachable for folks who don't want to deal with a modern Mac or Windows 8 experience -- I can appreciate that. Those dollars are now going to simpler devices like tablets and smartphones, which they weren't before. And if I spent a majority of my workday perpetually on-the-go, I'd probably feel differently.
Maybe Apple sees the same thing -- there's an awful lot of emphasis on their laptop and desktop lines these days, less so it seems on the iPad.
Has the tablet wave crested already?