My Tablet

I have seen a lot of tablets recently, but none won my real appreciation. A lot of them are digital handcuffs, fluffy pink on outside and hardened steel on inside – and I’m not a BDSM freak, sorry. Others lack the carefully designed lure into restraint and submission, but still are far from what my heart craves for.

And it craves for a Really Functional Tablet. One that is good for everything I throw on it. One that I can rely on. One that most people would recognize as “My Tablet”.

What it would be like? Well, I’ll share this to everyone interested.

First of all, it will be hackable and repairable, on both software and hardware level. Not because I’m into spending all of my time playing with the toy instead of doing work. But because if it is accessible and attractive to the tinkerers, there quickly will be a thriving ecosystem around it. You will easily find someone who can replace a dead battery, RAM or even CPU, for a fraction of the cost for a new tablet. The same if you need it upgraded. Or connected to your obscure model of handcam, NAS, Mac 2015… Or made to support the new 5G connectivity. And so on. One simple, universal and convenient tool instead of a truckload of specialized gadgetry, often incompatible one with another. Do only digital heads value this?

As a part of this, its specs should be open – I’d love to run Linux on it. Sure, not everyone does. But if the thing is open enough for Linux, it will be open enough for any software to come. You’d prefer Windows Mobile? If it’s open, Microsoft will surely come in. You’d love iOS on it? Apple should be dumbasses to miss the opportunity. You prefer Android? Google will surely make a port. You’d rather go Cyanogen Mod, or something like? If the hardware is open, wait this soon… And you’re a code guru and would like to make your own software for it? Of course you can. And this is the best, including for the ordinary users – the next Really Great Things appear where there is diversity and openness. The PC would probably never be created outside a garage.

What about the hardware? A standard quad-core Snapdragon or another ARM CPU will be more than enough. 2G of RAM should be enough, and a slot for a laptop-standard DDR3 would provide plenty more on need. (And won’t cost much.) 16G of SSD are a perfect start, and an extension (slot, card-based or both) will be a bonanza. (BTW, a card reader costs pennies and will be also great for storing photos etc.) A decent camera is mandatory; smaller front-facing one will be nice, but not a die-for. Wireless connectivity is a must, lack of it will be dealbreaker not only for the techies.

What I will need is phone abilities. Yes, it will be unwieldy to hold close to the ear – so what? There are these magic devices called “handsfree”, both wired and wireless. A phone-capable tablet in your jacket pocket or purse and a Bluetooth handsfree are a killer combination: expect them to become the standard in just a couple of years. Of course, the phone should be able to double also as a 3G/4G link – cheap and powerful solution.

Another must are the connection ports. Good tablets today come with HDMI output, micro-USB input and sound in/out ports. Add to this an USB hub chip (also pennies) and maybe FW, and you get a powerful media center in the same small factor. Plug a huge external harddisk in the USB, and you have a detachable Big Storage for what you will not be comfortable to put into the cloud. (Which pretty soon is going to be everything: more and more customers realize that most cloud providers happily sell their personal data to everyone – government, spooks, corporations, banks, criminals, you name it.) Cameras, PCs, games, TVs, Google Glasses… whatever. If it exists, you can connect it to the same your tablet.

And there are more things to add and attract the customer with. GPS? It will be welcome. Gyros and movement detectors? Fine. Kinect detectors? Great, if size and price allows… All these things do not cost much when ordered industrial quantities. And building them into one package and allowing the software to interact with them will bring an enormous amount of flexibility. You will not be anymore constrained by the abilities of your hardware – you will be enabled by it to do whatever you didn’t dared to even dream before.

Yes, bundling most mentioned extras will increase the production cost. Probably by $20-30. Who wouldn’t be happy to pay $50 more to have them all? Very few people. And they already have plenty of crippleware to choose from. Don’t be afraid of losing them – this is the price for gaining the most and the most influential buyers, the society opinion makers. Whom you will rather court?

And most of all: be honest and loyal to these customers. They are the smartest ones, who instantly see the foul play. And they are quick to hate and slow to forgive for it. Give them willingly and heartily, be on their side. Segment the market according to their needs, not according to schemes for squeezing them dry. Offer them protected, but unlocked devices. Give them the freedom they would love, and will honor you for it.

Not only because it is “Not Evil”. Do it because it will deliver profits. These clients will pay you with loyalty where the others will jump the ship. They will prefer buying from your e-markets, even if you don’t offer a lot of choice, maybe even if you can’t offer the lowest prices – and e-trade is where profit is today. They will do it to support you because of your honesty, exactly like you will always support a poor but decent person against a nasty and greedy bully. More and more customers realize that market honesty must be rewarded and unscrupulousness must be punished, or else every new day brings less of the former and more of the latter.

These are the greatest customers in the world. The ones who will stay with you in even the desperate situations, and will help you to overcome all the odds. Win them, and you will win the business war.

And you can win them with what they will be happy to call “My Tablet”.

17 thoughts on “My Tablet

  1. Hristo Hristov

    You know that, nobody will make such device, because all they will lose money in future, the same goes with the game consoles and PC games. PC games always give more freedom and can be made more prettier and big than console games but the companies lose money because you can build your PC with the parts you need and you are not obligated to use the same hardware as the rest of the PC gamers. That is why there are few Linux games and plenty Windows ones, because Microsoft pay to the game developers and nobody pay from the Linux side.

  2. Anonymous

    Craving for a Really Functional Tablet is something like seeking an ideal wife (or husband). It might never happen. Generally speaking everything that relates to the idea of computers (here including all the cellphones, e-book readers, tablets and communication chips implanted in your brain) is a magic. And as it is well known, any magic has two sides: “black magic” and “white magic”. Telling it simply any hardware is a “black” and any software is a “white” one. The real problem is in the hardware; which means: in the area of “black magic”… Why? Because while software depends only on you and on your intellectual fact, hardware is a product of the diligence of a big number of people and this is a promise for a real chaos. So, the white software magic is “white” because it is an “easy” offspring of your head but the black hardware evil is “black and evil” because the substantial world never could be faultless.

  3. Григор Post author

    @Hristo Hristov: The one that makes such a device will win, as long as the Moore Law holds – and seems it will hold for decades to come.

    @Петър Петров: With rounded corners!

    @юлий: And not only. 😉

    @~!@#$%^&*()_+: I’m not saying they aren’t dumbasses.

  4. Жилов

    Everyone tends to be religious about something. Open platforms seem to be your religion.
    Do you own a tablet or a smartphone? If not, why? Because they don’t conform to your ideals?
    Would you rather not use electricity because it is produced by power stations that you cannot control?

  5. Григор Post author

    @Жилов: I own a smartphone that covers a small part of my needs. Its hardware is good for much more, but since it is a closed platform, these abilities are locked away. Should I want the functionality I could have with this phone if it was open, I must pay a monthly salary for a new, top-level toy. And you know, I’m a bit religious about wasting hard-earned money.

    Same with the tablets. No current tablet can give me all I need. However, one like the description above can. At a price of $500 it will carry over 50% profit, and will be vastly more functional than the $900 iPads etc. Seems to me like win-win, and I’m a bit religious about win-wins, too. 🙂

  6. Anonymous

    Хей, момчета! Абе, ние с вас да не би нещо да сме откачили, а? Като гледам – всички коментари тук са оставени от все същите хора, които обикновено пишат всеки ден на български, а сега изведнъж като по команда взехме да дращим на (лош) английски. Бива ли такива работи? Даже по времето на съветската окупация се преструвахме, че хич не сме на “ти” с руския, а сега – по време на Атлантическата Окупация (на Свидното ни Отечество) ще си си изпотрошим пероДРЪЖКИТЕ да пишем на американски език. Срам не ни ли е?

  7. Жилов

    I see. Apple devices are too closed, but Android devices are good enough for a simple user like me, who is only interested in reading digital books and watching YouTube videos.

    wn, теб не те ли баннаха вече

  8. Григор Post author

    @Жилов: I’m afraid you still don’t see.

    You probably would like to have a device, Android or whatever, that deals with every task you throw at it. Closed or not wouldn’t matter much, right? To me, too. The point is on the ability to do whatever I need.

    My phone is a Nokia 6600. You probably wouldn’t call it smartphone at all, and will think it’s good for little else than talking. However, its hardware is more than sufficient for composing music, reading (and writing 🙂 ) books, watching videos, browsing the Net, running server terminals, using fronted productivity apps (even office suites), and a lot of other things we are used to see only on the most powerful smartphones. (A bigger screen would be better, but the current one is mostly tolerable.) If it was an open platform, there would surely be people who would port to it some of this functionality, and I would use it. If a moment comes where working with a cloud office suite becomes essential for my job (for a lot of people it already is), I probably wouldn’t need to buy another phone.

    Unhappily, it is a closed platform. None of this functionality will ever come to it. Should I need cloud office etc, I will have to buy a new high-end smartphone or tablet that will cost me a monthly salary, if not more. And trust me, I have better uses for my money than buying shiny toys I could do without. Does this make me religious or fanatic?

  9. Жилов


    No. But it makes you biased.
    This is very human, of course – everyone is biased.
    You abstain from some “worthless” experiences because you are too focused on a particular *important* truth.

    But every person has a different battle to fight, different things that he or she deems important.

    For example, I prefer a DRM free shop and whenever possible, I buy stuff from this DRM free shop.
    But I don’t boycott other shops when I can’t find a title in a DRM free format.
    Buying particular games that I highly value is more important to me than discouraging DRM.

  10. Григор Post author

    @Жилов: Not wanting to spend without a real need makes one biased? Well, theoretically probably yes. But I think the benefits from this bias outweigh the disadvantages. 🙂

    As for the preferences, I do the same. Have bought a phone that is locked from being really useful, and probably will buy another one. But should around be something really good, I’d prefer it.

  11. Иван

    Exactly how closed/open is Android?
    I’ve heard it runs linux kernel (modified, but still linux). It runs applications in java-like machine. I’ve heard that HTC androids are on loss because they are the most locked of all…
    So, would somebody with more experience explain what the paradigm with Android is?

  12. Григор Post author

    @Иван: A (somewhat modified) Linux kernel, Google-made userland and Dalvik (virtual machine, mostly java-compatible) for the applications. If the phone is locked, all you can access is the Dalvik applications (plus some system menus). If it is unlocked, it is an Unix, much like Linux. Never heard of attempts to run the GNU userland on it; if successful, you’ve got Linux. 🙂


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