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Handhelds Portables

Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago 272

Posted by Soulskill
from the beginning-of-the-end dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Here's another story of a tech gadget that arrived before its time. Nokia created a web-ready tablet running EPOC (later to be renamed as Symbian) thirteen years ago. The tablet was set to go into full production, and they actually built a thousand units just before it was canceled. The tablet was scrubbed because market research showed there wasn't demand for the device. The team got devices for themselves and the rest were destroyed. The team was then fired. The lesson: Don't try to be pioneer if you're relying on market research studies."
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Nokia Had a Production-Ready Web Tablet 13 Years Ago

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:50PM (#46771515)
    and resistive touchscreen, USB 1.0, running on AA batteries.

    In other words, not ready for prime time.
  • ob Henry Ford (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:52PM (#46771545)

    "If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse"

  • The lesson... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by fintux (798480) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:54PM (#46771587)
    I would rather put it: Don't rely on market research studies, if you want to be a pioneer. If Henry Ford had asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said "We want faster horses".
  • by butalearner (1235200) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @01:54PM (#46771591)
    The reason tablets became popular is because people had begun to use their phones in similar ways, and the price wasn't too outrageous. Microsoft had tablets before they became popular, too, but they didn't kick off the tablet craze. Pioneering technology is one part tech, ten parts timing.
  • by Spazmania (174582) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:29PM (#46772107) Homepage

    That's the thing The capacitive multitouch screen makes tablets practical. Before that they were just toys. Nokia made the right call for the time.

  • by LurkerXXX (667952) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:30PM (#46772113)

    There were a ton of internet devices a decade ago. I had drawers full of literature from a lot of companies making new ones. We wanted to use some badly for at-home patients for a research study. We didn't buy any. Why? They were expensive, and they sucked. There are reasons tablets didn't take off 13 years ago, and it had absolutely nothing to due with market-research.

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:34PM (#46772163)

    In other words, not ready for prime time.

    Indeed. There were tablet computers in the 1990s and even 1980s. Tablets didn't become mainstream in the 2010s because someone just thought of it, but because acceptable hardware was finally available.

  • Re:ob Henry Ford (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BasilBrush (643681) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:46PM (#46772373)

    "It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."
    â" Steve Jobs

    This one *is* genuine.

  • by morgauxo (974071) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @02:50PM (#46772445)

    Why is capacitive touch so important? Multi-touch is cool but I use my Android phone all the time and for just about everything. The only multi-touch gesture I even know is pinch zoom/out. I go whole days without using that and if I didn't have it some sort of disappearing slider would suit me just fine.

    I miss the resistive touch screen on my Sharp Zaurus. No, I didn't HAVE to use the stylus. For the normal stuff I do with my capacitive touch screen now I usually just 'clicked' with my fingernail. But... if I wanted to draw a picture, write something (actual handwriting), or use tiny controls (such as desktop apps via VNC) I could do that with a stylus. Capacitive touch screens CANNOT DO THAT!!! they are way too inprecise.

    Ideally I would like to have both. My understanding is that some company has a patent on a touch screen which is basically just both a capacitive and a resistive sensor stacked. That way you can have precise single-touch sensing AND multitouch. I have yet to see any product though. It is just wonderful that we have a system where companies can patent good ideas without ever making them available to people who might want to buy them!

  • The real lesson (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekmux (1040042) on Wednesday April 16, 2014 @03:09PM (#46772749)

    "The tablet was scrubbed because market research showed there wasn't demand for the device. The team got devices for themselves and the rest were destroyed. The team was then fired. The lesson: Don't try to be pioneer if you're relying on market research studies."

    Don't be a pioneer?

    Yeah, I'm sure that was the lesson learned for every person who did not start up a company called "Apple" out of their garage.

    Or pioneer the use of this little thing we call "Windows" on computers.

    The real lesson? Market research can be dead wrong. Ask anyone on this team who would love to have a piece of that billion-dollar market today.

Those who do not understand Unix are condemned to reinvent it, poorly. - Henry Spencer, University of Toronto Unix hack

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