There seems to be some questioning about whether or not tablets (not just the iPad1) are here to stay. Katherine Noyes compains that they don’t offer enough functionality, and pans the iPad directly2. Even Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak didn’t seem too impressed with the future of tablets by remarking that they were only for “normal people” (whatever that means).

And certainly with the waxing and waning of the netbook still fresh in our minds, it’s easy to see that the latest gadgets aren’t necessarily the greatest3.

However, I think the reason for the netbook’s demise (other than the iPad) was that it didn’t represent a paradigm shift. Sure, it was kind of cool to see them out in public for the first time (“That’s your computer? How is it so small?”), but in the end it didn’t have anything new to offer. I think the poor economy was the main reason for its popularity.

Now tablets do come to the table with something new. Instead of install disks there are app stores, they are all solid state, and no mouse is required. Paradigm shift.

So what does this all mean for the future? Moore’s Law states that technology gets faster and smaller4. I think in the end, it will shrink to the point of not even being physical anymore. Movies, such as Iron Man 2, Minority Report, and Final Fantasy: Spirits Within5 depict computing as manipulating holograms, which is the way I too imagine computers going. But in the interim, that means that people will demand smaller technology. And that means tablets.

With Motorolla Xoom sales not even topping 100,000 units sold and different tablet projects getting killed before they even hit the streets, that means it’s the iPad for now. You can also read a previous article, comparing the iPad to the Galaxy Tab.

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1Please don’t read into this article that I’m trying to say iPads are the coolest ever, and they’ll always dominate. In fact, I hope the purported “iPad killer” does come along. Competition between developers leads to choices for the customer. It’s not like Apple has exactly gotten lazy about developing the iPad, but just imagine what could happen if push came to shove.

2Of course, in the same breath, she says smartphones have more functionality than the iPad.

3I would love to see a VH1 “Behind the Music” for the netbook

4Try comparing ENIAC to the iPad 2.

5Yeah, I went there. Sorry.