February 22, 2011, 9:51 AM — Tablet computing is a decade-old technology, but one that lay buried since users rejected Microsoft's "heavy OS" approach a while back. A year ago, Apple's iPad resurrected the tablet computing concept, delivering a lightweight sheet of computational glass with a pleasant, responsive user interface and a blizzard of applications. Users love it, and now a barrage of wannabe tablets are flooding the marketplace. All do reasonably well at the four applications users access most: Web, email, books, and media. And the half million or so apps in the collective app stores of Apple, Android, and BlackBerry would seem to fill every conceivable mobile need.
But users, particularly business users, want more. They want to throw away their laptop computers, or at least drag them out less often. InfoWorld.com's Galen Gruman has proclaimed that these devices will become the main computing device for most workers, and recently one mobile device management company declared the laptop is dead, based on the meteoric increase in tablet offerings. The statement may be premature, given that Google's Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb") OS has yet to appear commercially, and planned tablets from the likes of Hewlett-Packard and RIM depend on proprietary, unproven operating systems. Still, it's clear that huddled users are yearning to be laptop-free.
[ Find out how vendors' furious tablet jockeying is really a battle for the future of computing in Galen Gruman's "What the 'tablet wars' are really all about." | Discover InfoWorld's picks for the best iPad office apps. | Keep up on key mobile developments and insights with Mobilize newsletter. ]