Present at the Creation

Welcome to the tablet wars.

New products come and go. Some seem destined for the trash bin within hours. Remember “Tickle-Me Elmo?” But some are truly game-changers, and alter our lives in a fundamental way.

Such has been the case with the tablet computer. While “Tablet” may be the category, the iPad is the product everybody knows. And when it comes to tablets, there’s the iPad and there’s everyone else.

Yes, it’s grating to have to go through the iStore for every file you want to transfer; and it’s galling to have to confirm your credit card number every time you download an upgrade to a free app, and sending comments and complaints to Apple’s customer service area is like putting letters into a bottle from a desert island in the Pacific. But for all that, the iPad is the “it” hardware. It defines the tablet.

Tablet computing is all about software—an integrated operating system with apps that use the potential of the 7 inch screen, so you look through the device to get to the content, whether it’s text-and-graphics, photos, video, or some combination. Throwing Windows into a tablet won’t work any better than throwing Windows into a smartphone platform did. Anyone remember the “Glisten?” Thought not.

But lots of companies will try. So as the Samsung Galaxy, the BlackPad, HP’s Slate, and a host of Android devices rush to the market for the holidays, look for Apple to cash in. Because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And sometimes your competitor’s ads are your best marketing.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Chief Investment Officer
Hit reply if you have any questions—I read them all!

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