Friday, November 18, 2011

Will voice be the “killer app” for tablets too?

The iPhone transformed the smartphone market when it was launched in 2007.  Why?  The graphics?  The swiping?  The integration with iTunes and the like?

Not according to Steve Jobs. This is what he said as he introduced the iPhone to the world:

We want to reinvent the phone. What's the killer app? The killer app is making calls! It's amazing how hard it is to make calls on most phones.

This is still true with smartphones, even if the buzz has shifted to voice recognition and the great debate about how revolutionary the Siri software in the new iPhone is compared to Android voice recognition efforts.

So what about tablets?

Sprint in the US thinks Jobs is still right.  Tablets are going to be all about voice.  From mobilebloom:
Sprint’s Director of Business Product Marketing, Jeff Adelmann, stated that tablets should now include telephony as one of their prime features, suggesting that 4G and 3G models of these devices might not consolidate their position in the market before that happens.

Light Reading expanded on this, with Adelmann explaining that tablets don’t have to act as giant phones but that they must have all the capabilities of a desktop and smartphone to really solidify their market position.

There are mobile tablets out there of course.  And Telstra in Australia is featuring a Cisco tablet with high-profile telephony features.
But what do you think?  Is voice always the killer app?  Or will tablets do just fine with data?


  1. Sprint have got this one right. Not many people want to carry around a phone *and* a tablet...

  2. If the killer App is making calls why did Apple make a device with such poor call handling skills?

  3. I agree that Sprint is right but will people really not carry a phone so they can talk on a tablet? I think this gets to whether tablets will be too "in between" in the long run.

    As for Apple's voice design, it's a good question. I guess they thought any kind of voice was enough. And people do put up with horrible voice quality sometimes. A plug for HD voice?

  4. If (and that's a big 'if') visual communication takes off then people may well carry around just a tablet. But you're right - this comes down to the whole question of what tablets can really do better than other devices. If we already have forks and spoons, what's the point of a spork?

  5. And I was just going to sit down and eat lunch with my spork ...

    I'm not sure about tablets even with visual communication. It's just too big for casual walking around. But even as a skeptic, I can't ignore the iPad sales numbers. There is obviously a market for consuming media like this - and tablet owners seem willing to pay for things too.

    So maybe it doesn't matter. Tablets will be important, whether in a niche or as a mass market device.

  6. Yes I think there needs to be a difference a phone is to make phone calls, making calls on a tablet just seems awkward and inappropriate. For video calling for business communications
    , a tablet would be much better suited...