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Commentary: Web tablets' benefits left unpublicized

The largest impediment to the widespread adoption of Web appliances in the home is consumers' lack of awareness of them as a class of products.

    By Brian Riggs, Gartner Analyst

    The PC has been the primary means by which consumers access Internet resources, but a class of Internet appliances is emerging that promises to simplify access to applications such as e-mail, instant messaging and Web browsing.

    See news story:
    Gateway letting go of appliance dreams
    However, consumers are generally unaware of the benefits, and in some cases the very existence, of those devices, whether they are e-mail stations or Web tablets.

    It is unfortunate, moreover, that PC manufacturers see Web tablets as competing rather than complementing their traditional product lines. The main selling point of tablet PCs is their mobility. Using them, a consumer can access the Web anywhere in the house, rather than having to sit at a particular desk in a particular room to get Internet access.

    In addition, wireless network connections that Web tablets support can be used not only to access residential broadband connections but also to connect with other PCs within the home. That capability will make Web tablets a valuable part of the overall home network.

    Tablet PCs have been around for years and are used primarily in vertical industries such as healthcare and insurance. Among other things, however, the high cost of flat-screen monitors has priced those devices outside the reach of the consumer market.

    The largest impediment to the widespread adoption of Web appliances in the home is consumers' lack of awareness of them as a class of products. The public has closely associated Internet access with the PC since commercial Internet service providers first started up.

    The onus falls on big manufacturers, such as Gateway, to educate consumers on this new type of product--as well as to explain how consumers can use it in conjunction with PCs in the home. If the leading PC manufacturers fail to do this, the responsibility will fall on Qubit and other companies whose business models rest solely on Web tablets.

    (For related commentary on Internet appliances, see TechRepublic.com--free registration required.)

    Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.