Home > Freedom, GNU/Linux, Technology > Gene Munster: Android-Based Tablets Will Be More Popular Than Apple’s iPad

Gene Munster: Android-Based Tablets Will Be More Popular Than Apple’s iPad

Business Insider has an interesting interview where Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts that

  • iPad-style tablets will fundamentally change the “PC industry”
  • Android tablets will overtake the iPad soon
  • Microsoft has missed the boat

First let’s get something straight, the interviewer says that the iPhone is “revolutionary” and that Apple invented the tablet. Both those statements are complete Apple hype. Microsoft had tablets before Apple did. Nor did Apple or Microsoft invent touchscreens. Touchscreens have been around for almost as long as the mouse, and they have always been used to lull computer users into thinking that they’re doing something “fundamentally different,” the same way Apple did in the eighties with their other invention, the WIMP GUI. Oh wait, Xerox invented that.

The idea that the iPhone is revolutionary is hype spread by people who think Steve Jobs getting a cup of coffee is revolutionary.

As to the analyst’s assertions: all I can say is “good.” Finally people will know that hardware companies other than Apple can produce a good product. I think it’s okay for tablet PCs to become more common, they look actually useful, as opposed to many laptops that are still too bulky to be portable, and still too slow to be useful. I might even want a Meego tablet, because it would save me from carrying a lot of things. I’m not going to stop using paper, but I might find a tablet useful.

If Android overtakes the iPad, again “good,” but that’s not necessarily a “great day for freedom.” We in the Free Software community need to put less stock in what business world people think about these trends. People in business care about money — they don’t care about what’s done well, what’s actually helps people get their jobs done, or about what’s ethical. We need to push software freedom where it really matters: in schools. As soon as I have kids in public school I will be at school board meetings and city council meetings telling them about Free Software. If kids start using tablets in school, then they sure as hell better have free software on them — and the schools need to enable and encourage them to use it — or we will be sending the message of “good for business, good for society,” to our kids. That is the wrong message to send to kids.

For the analyst’s last point, it’s more like “about time.” Finally people are starting to see how much Microsoft sucks. If it takes a product from Apple to show them, then so be it. I’m just glad that a sorta-free alternative (Android) is out there. There is also a mostly free alternative in Meego. I’m disappointed that it’s taken most people (including me) over twenty years to wake up and smell the coffee brewing near Seattle, but that fact that it’s finally happening is great news for everyone.

I think the best thing about Android or Meego tablets being on equal footing with the iPad — and therefore a good thing that the iPad finally created a viable market for tablets — is that it’s a step toward common knowledge and acceptance of Free Software as something usable and no longer the exclusive domain of “sandal-wearing freaks.” So “thank you” goes to the iPad and I hope this market does in Apple the same way it will to Microsoft.

  1. October 16, 2010 at 01:34

    Great article, but if you wait ’til your kids are in school that’s too late. In the first place, bureaucracy moves slow when it comes to change. School boards are incredibly resistant to changes pushed by parents. (They will move like the wind when they want to implement programs don’t want.)

    Realize too, that once your kids are in school, you have to take your kids lives into account. What if they say no? What if it gets contentious. Are you really going to want to take on the school board that has power over your kids entire future? It is in your kids’ best interests to make only gentle suggestions. Who do you talk to when your kid is being bullied for instance. Or who do you talk to when you need to get your kid in a special program.

    Trust me, the time to start lobbying your school board is now.

    Good luck.


    • October 16, 2010 at 08:06

      Thanks for reading. I definitely see your point about getting involved now. My concern is they’ll say “So you’re a scientist but you don’t have any kids in school; come back when you have a vested interest in the school system.” All I can say is “I pay taxes here, jerk!”

      Thankfully many school systems across the US are starting to use Free Software — they are also distributing computers to students with free software preloaded, so I’m not as trepidatious as I was three days ago.

      As to my kids disagreeing — I always joke that I’ll have to handle certain disappointments from my kids, like one of them ending up a Mac user — but I’ve done a good job already of explaining software freedom to my sons. Imagine a four-year-old who can recognize a “computer with GNU software, right daddy?” One of the great things about Free Software is that I don’t have to say “share with your brother” and then say “don’t share software with your friends.” I can say “here’s a new program to tell your friends about; they can download it, too.”

      I know that they will turn fourteen and call me a weird old freak, but I think the differential shininess factor between proprietary hardware/software and freedom-supporting hardware/software is shrinking phenomenally. The rebellion I’m predicting is “Fedora is for old weirdos like my dad, I’m using Ubuntu.”


  1. October 16, 2010 at 08:56
  2. October 18, 2010 at 21:07

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