Vanilla tablets are passé, ‘contentabs’ are in

SOME MONTHS ago, I had coined the term “app-phone” after spotting some smartphones that had content or applications specifically targeted at customer segments, such as senior citizens. I should have been smarter because I find that more than smartphones, it is the tablet PC that is even more oriented towards content because tablets are used to do things that for a couple of decades we have been doing with the desktop or laptop PC.

So, I think it is time to see bright future for what I call “contentabs” — tablets that go beyond hardware design and basic software to tailor content and applications that are of specific use to categories of customers.

In the past month, I have spotted a few such launches.

Last week, DataWind, maker of the cheap “Aakash” tablet for students launched its commercial equivalent, the UbiSlate series, which it says packs “a powerful combination of content and applications” that includes stuff from Yahoo, newspapers, Indian language apps and learning solutions for game-based education, and in fact, the full high-school curriculum of the Central Board of Secondary Education, besides games and job-search content.

I am more excited by tablets more focused than that.

A few weeks earlier Japan-based Wacom, a leader in interactive “pen tablets”, launched in India its Inutous5 model for creative professionals interested in photography and art. This model that enables artistic sketches, and comes bundled with art-friendly software such as the Adoboe Photoshop, Autodesk SketchBook Express and Corel Painter. Please note the tablet maker bundles software from various companies for the same target customer group. Way to go! Just a few days ago, HCL Infosystems launched its MyEduTab which at Rs 7,999 promises “education on the move” with focused educational content — obviously hitting the same market as UbiSlate with a higher market positioning.

Last year, Milagrow — which is a consulting company, not a tablet maker, as such — launched its own “TabTop” with pre-loaded applications for productivity, networking media, education, women, healthcare and finance.

Last week,’s shares rose 15% after its quarterly results exceeded market expectations — no doubt helped by its Kindle e-reader and its tablet, the Kindle Fire, riding on its e-book content distribution.

The point to note that while computer makers are courting content, things are reaching a point where the device is getting cheaper and content more precious — enough for content makers to get into custom manufacture of tablets. Content, once considered the tail, could well turn out to be the dog in the new phase of the communications convergence game.


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