The tech world was surprised when leaks about Microsoft's Courier tablet concept surfaced, because it seemed MS had something really clever for once. But the Courier faces Appley doom. And not by the iPad directly, but iPad apps.
Courier's design represents a complete and utter departure from the usual MS UI drudgery, which is partly why the video leaks acquired by Gizmodo back in 2009 were so fascinating. The whole thrust of MS's thinking is to create a super-smart electronic journal, even while that description completely fails to describe the potential of the Courier system. As a workflow organizer, document creator, calendar and meetings and shared content portal, mobile browser, mobile camera, and emailing app, MS's effort really is impressive. Check out the video below to remind yourself.
Nope. Because now you have to watch this video, a preview of what will (hopefully) be one of the first apps to hit the App Store come April, called PadNotes.
PadNotes is self-evidently useful—think of the potential uses for students taking notes in lectures, for business folk adding in notes to the PDF of their big project proposal while on a plane, for designers to sketch their ideas right at the moment they occur to them and the iPad is at hand.
Now, PadNotes is not Courier. It's developed by a small software company (Tirpirneni software), and though it's clever, it's evidently a first-gen piece of code. But you know by the third gen, it'll be even more awesome. And it's bound to get to the third generation, if not well beyond that, because iPhone developers have already demonstrated that you can maintain audience attention and thus revenue streams by updating your app products with new features. And by the third iteration, PadNotes may well be more Courier-like: Even if PadNote's developers don't do this, some competing company—possibly a bigger one, with more experience, will try something similar with more sophistication.
And that's why Courier's doomed. The iPad is coming soon, and it will sell like hotcakes (despite analyst nay-saying.) Apps like PadNotes will be available in April too, actually ready for use. We know that creative folk, who the Courier seems aimed at, still have an affinity to Apple products. And the Courier itself is still a distant hardware/software construct that nobody will get their paws on for ages. By which time Apple will have sewn up the half-laptop/half-smartphone market that tablets like the iPad are perfectly positioned in, and there'll be a slew of apps that do exactly what Courier promised, and possibly more.
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