Ability Problems or Perception Problems

Evernote on the iPad and N8 - Share on OviIs it really the lack of the ability of mobiles devices to do work that frame the perception, or is it rather the lack of our abilities to learn/do different behaviors which frame the perception? I speak of the often heard/seen statement, “mobiles/smartphones/tablets aren’t replacements for laptops/PCs for real work.” I don’t agree. I see what others see, but I just don’t agree.

The people willing enough to chat with me about this perception will sometimes agree with me that there is nothing stopping anyone from doing all manners of work – quality work even – on mobiles/tablets. But the agreement ends there. They’ll (rightly) point out that some tasks are better suited for laptops and desktops – what they are really meaning is that they prefer to use a mouse, keyboard, and larger screen. Ok, I can deal with the preference – but it doesn’t answer the ability.

Then there are those whom will – without investigating what they actually use computers for – say that mobiles/tablets aren’t replacements for laptops/desktops. These are the persons that I find it easy to spot the holes in the arguments. Well intentioned they are mind you, they just actually forgot about the part of the question of actually using the mobile device as a replacement for a prolonged period of time.

I can remember back when I was using the Treo 600 to get email, and people were saying “man, you read email on that little (3.5in) screen. I couldn’t do that.? Only to find them years later pinning for the latest smartphone with the same or slightly longer screen so that they can read email. Amazing what actually living the experience does towards changing that perception.

And finally, there are those who’ve tried and failed. They rightly tried using a mobile device as a replacement, but found that it was not suitable to what it was they were replacing. I was guilty here with the Nokia N800 for doing this. I tried to make that device a netbook-like device, but it just wouldn’t bend to my will. I ended up putting the device down for a number of months and one day came back to it with a new plan (I would use it as an electronic work folder). Wouldn’t you know it, the N800 not just worked, but excelled in that niche – to which my iPad now fills (re:the picture).

So I ask, and even wonder aloud. When ever I am reading that someone thinks/says that an iPad cannot replace a laptop – what specifically are they saying that it can’t do? Are they making the case that there is some body of work that is not suitable for it? Or, are they saying (indirectly) that the actions they want to do don’t feel as comfortable on the tablet (and they have no confidence in developers or their own ability to solve that problem)? Or, are they saying that they tried it as a replacement and they failed, maybe not realizing that they tried to take a bigger bite out of the word “replacement” than was possible at the time?

Whatever the reason, I don’t think that its an issue with devices (and some cases software). Can you make genre defining and quality-redefining content and concepts with mobiles and tablets? Sure you can. But, its not because you go into thinking that what worked for a laptop/desktop is supposed to work the same for that mobile. It is a different device, and considerations towards input, storage, and processing do need to be made.

You take those considerations, experiment and figure out where your abilities need to gain a new perspective. You might be surprised at just how much is possible when that veil is lifted. Its been a few years on my part, I am constantly shocked. Maybe the fact that I keep hearing/seeing that statement is that some find no compelling reason to shift their perceptions or abilities. They are content, and their outlooks to something new start with the resolve that challenging their perceptions shouldn’t be in the ability of anything new.