Why is there such a flurry of activity, particularly from Microsoft, on touchscreen? Let me list 7 hypotheses as to why Redmond might be preoccupied with touchscreen.
1)Vista is currently a Zombie. Dead On Arrival and only getting market because you can fool some of the people some of the time if you have some positive Brand value left and the monopoly power to eliminate Windows XP as a user choices from all the major PC vendors(go to Dell, HP, Asus, Lenovo websites and see if or how long you will be able to buy a machine , any machine with with XP preloaded and/or not costing extra). But the Apple commercials about Vista appear to be taking their toll. Mac sales were up by double digits in the last quarter while all other PC vendors were down with the exception of Dell. In sum, the Windows if not the whole Microsoft Brand is at stake, Windows 7 will not only have to cut the fat/bloat but also offer iPhone-like touchscreen capabilities to stay in the game with Apple.
2)Mobile is leading the way. Mobile phones, handhelds, and some mini-priced laptops like the Asus EEE are leading in growth of sales for IT devices worldwide. Many of these mobiles are touchscreen based. PCs, both desktop and notebooks need to be made more relevant and competitive to mobiles.
3)Notebooks and laptops are taking away desktop market share. And more of those devices like OLPC, Asus EEE and Nokia devices are not Windows based. Danger Redmond, danger.
4)Touchscreen including multi-touch (two or more “fingers” or pointing devices acting simultaneously and independently on the touchscreen) will be the basis of information at your finger tips and the next productivity leap-ahead to be delivered by computing devices. If PCs dont deliver these capabilities, other devices like mobiles, and embedded screens will and will take even more market and mind share away from Microsofts cash cows: Windows, Office, Exchange, etc.
5)SaaS is taking the IT experience into the Internet cloud. Why the hell do you need an artificially high priced PC with its OS software costing more than the hardware when you can get the OS free and much of the cloud SaaS software which replace expensive desktop apps free also? Touchscreen brings unique and valuable operations that will be hard to duplicate back to the desktop/laptop, preserving the cash cows.
6)Touchscreen operations are so natural for many tasks. I have long lusted for a tablet that would allow me to paint or photoshop- correct images with a stylus pointing directly on the screen. Same for presentations – I want to enlarge and then shrink the slide, or whisk away layers to reveal the underlying points, or rotate with a gesture. I have always wanted to point with two fingers to the portions of tabular data that I want and then with a gesture have it exported to the clipboard or my files. I have wanted to … and you can probably easily add your own favorites like play a virtual piano keyboard or tap on a map for more , etc, etc, etc.
7)Redmond needs to show it can at least lead by imitation of not innovation. For example, the desktop pen+tablet has been in Microsofts court exclusively for the past ten years at least. What does the market have to show for that exclusive after Redmond bludgeoned all the competing Pen OS with promises, promises, promises ?
So the Future of Microsoft and its Windows monopoly may reside in a touch.