The 7 Inch Bandwagon: A Look Into the Philippine Tablet Craze and Why I Believe Apple is Eager to Join

I have an adorable nephew named Joaquin and his house is literally five minutes away from ours. Whenever I hear a kid screaming outside of our house, I already know that he’s just there waiting for us to let him in. I found several ways to appease little kids when I find them overly active. One solution is to let them watch TV. Sometimes, when we do have stock, I make them eat chocolates. But sometimes we just can’t do anything about the hyperactivity until the Apple iPad came along.

The first time he ever held the first generation iPad, I noticed how absorbed he was. I never thought a gadget could keep a kid quiet for too long and I am guessing in the next few years gadgets of the same nature will keep kids focused for hours.

To be fair, I would like to focus on the current Philippine tablet market and disregard trends from other countries. I will do my best to relate to our market and culture.

So, what do I think of the current tablet craze in the country?

To be perfectly honest, the tablet market in the Philippines is still in the acceptance stage. I can say that we are currently in the Apple iPad craze. An Apple iPad is a tablet, but a tablet is not just an Apple iPad. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of tablet brands in the market. Sizes and prices vary. There are a lot of brands coming out with their own versions of tablets and all of them say that they have an edge over the others. If I am going to name the closest competitor of the Apple iPad, it would definitely be Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Series which come in different sizes starting from the 5 inch up to the 10.1 inch. All are run by Android OS which most of us know is an open source platform created and managed by Google.

Every time I do trade visits, I mingle with end users and ask them what they think of tablets in general. Since I don’t have the luxury of time to ask as many people as I want, I try to learn from a few people I encounter and keep their insights for future reference.

Here are some insights I got from some clients and end users:

1.) The truth is, even if the touchscreen technology is high tech, most Filipinos still want to touch an actual keyboard.

Admittedly, after hearing this from a lot of people, I can say that I can relate to this because I was so used to texting without looking (Come on, you have to agree with me on this.) Initially, before the tablets came out, we encountered touchscreen phones first. Coming off the Telco industry, it was such a challenge to push our first line of touchscreen phones because of the simple reason that Filipinos are not yet in the acceptance stage of the this technology. People were hesitant to buy because they are used to the current cellphone they are using, in this case, probably a monoblock /candy bar cellphone. And let me tell you this, it took our team around 6 months to convince dealerships to stock and sell and another 6 months to educate end users how a touchscreen works and why it is the future form of the smartphone segment.

Right now, we are slowly learning to accept this new technology and I am pleased with our progression. From cellphones we are now learning about tablet usage which is a very good sign of a moving economy.

2.) Although tablets are portable and easy to use, there are Filipinos who still go for high-powered netbooks for work efficiency. Somewhat tablets are still seen as a dependent gadget to desktop PCs / notebooks / netbooks.

For the sake of discussion, a netbook is a smaller version of a notebook. To give you an idea, a netbook’s size is between 11 – 10.1 inch. Anything more than 11 inch is considered a notebook. We all know what a desktop PC is right?

Sure, applications are fun but at the end of the day, the main reason why we buy a gadget is for high productivity. Have we forgotten our grade school lessons about the simple machines? These simple machines were made to make our lives easier. This also goes to say that our present gadgets should make our lives better. Can the tablet be used for work and productivity? We have yet to find out. As far as I know, our PCs, netbooks and notebooks have proven their worth already.

3. Accessories are nice but it will cost us a LOT.

I personally own a decent number of gadgets: a notebook, a netbook, an iPhone, an iPod classic, an iPod shuffle, 2 Nokia phones, a Senn, 3 USBs and an external hard drive. I am telling you now, maintenance of these gadgets are hard and not to mention expensive. Sometimes I reminisce those times when I only had a Creative player (512MB) and a box of floppy disks. Imagine having to maintain all these gadgets. Accessories don’t come in cheap. Just imagine owning a couple of Apple products and buying all the accessories. It would cost you a lot of money! But we buy it anyway, right?

I have to end this post now because it is (after all) three months late. Sorry kids, I had a long Encounter with Life.

I am back blog world. Expect daily posts starting today.

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