Tablets, Phablets, Schmablets

Zal Bilimoria of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz opines that the love affair with tablets is over …

Back in 2011, I was having an all-consuming love affair with tablets. At the time, I was the first-ever head of mobile at Netflix. I saw tablets in my sleep, running apps that would control homes, entertain billions, and dutifully chug away at work. Tablets, I was convinced, were a third device category, a tweener that would fill the vacuum between a phone and a laptop. I knew that was asking a lot — at the time, however, I didn’t know just how much.

My last tablet, an iPad 2, was relegated to serving up background noise while at the desk. One day it was knocked off its perch, and the screen shattered; I subsequently sold it (damage and all) and never replaced it. With the lack of a true file system, the need to dig up an “app” for most all everyday work tasks, and the zero marginal utility it provided while lashed to a golf bag or fly-fishing pack, I couldn’t be bothered. Now I play streaming movies over the phone while it’s connected via bluetooth to a Bose Soundlink Mini. Same effect, although I still don’t know if the villain survived being boiled in a vat of liquid metal. But I don’t much care either.

Mr. Bilimoria is spot on that they are gathering dust – nothing but personalized entertainment devices of mass distraction. And while I do see potential in the enterprise, I also agree the platforms are just not there yet. But, I’m not sure the merging of form factors is going to lead to measurable growth in the space. Bigger phones? No thanks. I’d rather have a smaller phone than I have now. Not “wearable” bunk – something that just fits even better in the pocket. More durable so I don’t have to bulk it up with a case. Edge-to-edge touch screen, accompanied by a flesh-colored earbud (black? white? lipstick red? fuck.) that charges with the same cord. And an antenna that actually carries a voice signal.

While you are at it phabletizers, ace the front-facing cameras. You’re just pouring jet fuel on the selfie-fire.

MG signing off (to pay attention to those in front of him, instead of checking his phone every ten seconds)