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Vintage Bill Gates Predicts Tablets to Be the 'Most Popular Form of PC Sold in America'

Illustration for article titled Vintage Bill Gates Predicts Tablets to Be the Most Popular Form of PC Sold in America

Our own Adam Frucci doesn't like the idea of tablet computing. And most of the world agreed with him back in 2001 when Bill Gates and Microsoft were pushing the form factor.

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You may remember, Bill Gates was a loyal tablet user for years (and he still uses one). He was such a fan, in fact, that back in 2001 Gates told CNN, "The tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available whenever you want it...It's a PC that is virtually without limits — and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America."

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Obviously, Gates was wrong—at least about the timeline. It's seven years later and tablets are all but dead while netbooks and touchscreen smartphones thrive. Keep in mind that multitouch wasn't around yet, though the idea of smudging up your computer's screen probably didn't make much sense given that a stylus was the ideal means for navigation.

Microsoft has since dialed back their enthusiasm on the tablet form factor, but you can see its spirit live on in products like the Surface and Windows 7's multitouch support.

To me, the question is not so much whether or not tablets are capable of succeeding in the marketplace but how they've captured the imaginations of Bill Gates, Apple fanboys and Star Trek alike yet still managed to elude mainstream popularity. [CNN and Image]

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DISCUSSION

Touchscreens are popular for smartphones because you cannot use a mouse, so you need an alternative form of input. Touchscreen is a great alternative to a mouse. But ultimately, for home use, nothing beats a mouse and keyboard. Our fingers are not designed for precision pointing like a mouse cursor is, so a touchscreen will be inherently imprecise no matter what bells & whistles are used to improve it (for example the "droplet" effect). The tablet is a cool CONCEPT, so people become fixated on it. But these are people who are trying to figure out the next big thing, not people who necessarily want to use a tablet for something, I.E., sci-fi aficionados or computer developers. Tablets are useful in certain situations, generally situations where people are out in the field and need something more substantial then a smartphone. But it's the same issue, you are in the field so using a mouse may be impractical, therefore a touchscreen is the next best interface. Still does not mean they serve any purpose in a typical home or office setting.