Software vendors warily eye Tablets

When the Tablet PC officially hit the market last month, critics and customers alike oohed and aahed over its cool factor. Microsoft Corp., which developed the Windows XP Tablet PC Edition operating system, launched the new form factor with great expectations and predictions of the Tablet taking over the notebook market within a few years.

However, the combination of hardware and software vendors backing the launch didn’t add up.

Atypically, the number of vendors producing hardware for the Tablet OS is almost exactly the same as the number of vendors producing software for the products. This is the result of a “chicken and egg factor,” according to one analyst.

Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies Inc., an analyst firm in Campbell, Calif., said there are two reasons why so few software vendors are embracing the Tablet out of the gate.

“The first thing is that Microsoft has been relatively slow at getting the software developer’s kit into the market – it’s only been out six or nine months at best. Secondly, for a software company to put serious money into the Tablet PC, they have to be assured that there will be significant Tablets in the market to have potential to sell to these devices,” he said.

According to Bajarin, predictions for units sold in 2003 point to less than 200,000 hitting the market.

“The bottom line for software vendors is that for them to make money they will want to see millions of devices out there, not thousands,” he said.

Current vendors participating in development for the Tablet include Ottawa-based Corel Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Siebel Systems Inc., SAP, FranklinCovey, WebEx Communications Inc., Alias