Why the Future of Tablets Isn’t in Apps

Pudits like to point to apps (and importantly the availability of apps) as the deciding factor in the success (and failure) of tablets and other app-oriented devices.  Most developers have the bandwidth to support at most two (and sometimes three) development platforms.  The largest app developers – the Pandoras and Kindles of the world – will allocate resources for greater development.  These business models are built on the ubiqitious availability of their offerings, but beyond say the top 20 percent most developers will only be able to support one or two platforms.  With this, many suggest only the two largest platforms (iOS and Android) will survive thrive because their users will have access to the lifeblood of mobile computing devices – apps.  Other platforms will still see development of course.  This development will be focused more on niche applications and then of course the 20 percent who are developing for most available platforms.

But HTML5 is coming (quickly). There is an increasing amount of HTML5 Web app development happening.  This will drive the app ecosystem to the cloud and means that any browser-enabled device will be able to compete against devices with large native app ecosystems.  This will significantly open-up the battle within device hardware.  The recent firesale of HP’s TouchPad tablets highlights the market dynamics at play.  Despite selling for $99, the secondary market price for TouchPads is close to $250.  Despite the fact that large-scale developement will slow significantly for WebOS devices, these devices have strong video and audio feature sets and a small selection (the 20 percent) of native applications for some of the more popular tablet activities collectively covering most of the services consumers are interested in.