Microsoft billionaire says that the e-reader market, despite being worth over $200 million, won’t be popular.
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Tablets may be rising in popularity by the day, but their limited counterparts – e-readers – won’t take off according to Bill Gates
The announcement of Google’s Nexus 7 last week was another chapter in the expansion of the tablet market, which was effectively kickstarter by Apple and the launch of the iPad in 2009. E-readers are much cheaper and typically offer black-and-white displays, and Microsoft’s Bill Gates doesn’t see the market as being successful like tablets.
Gates rejected the device when it was shown to him in the 90s, even though it had a touchscreen, because he thought the future was with physical keyboards. That was probably the right decision in the 1990s because multitouch weren’t popular.
Of course Amazon’s various versions of Kindle popularized e-readers, bringing an affordable and lightweight form factor with the advantage of Amazon’s massive catalog of books. Microsoft, Google and Apple don’t have the catalogue even if Apple launched iBooks.
Gates also dismissed tablets because the interface wasn’t like Windows. We all saw how that philosophy worked out when Windows Mobile was around.
We’re now seeing Microsoft enter the tablet market with its own Surface tablets, which do look great, and the next generation of Windows Phone devices with Windows Phone 8. Apple popularized the touchscreen phone with the original iPhone, which led to Google adopting the technology while Microsoft and RIM continued to push their own devices that took an entirely different approach to a simple UI.
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The interview in Vanity Fair also said that Microsoft didn’t adopt Instant Messaging services initially because it didn’t see the value of people typing out small amount of content on a screen. Of course, that’s what Twitter – and Facebook to an extent – are.
It’ll be interesting to see how consumer react to Surface. 7- and 10-inch versions from Apple and Google are now available from the two most popular mobile operating systems in the world. Apple and Google also have the advantage of building ecosystems for tablets before Microsoft can, with Windows 8 launching fully around October.
Microsoft is relying on Metro becoming popular, because the desktop environment doesn’t work on a tablet as every action is precise.