A Seismic Shift
Of course there are too many dimensions to this questions, but I'd like to go into one facet briefly: The tablet based delivery channel matters because it represents not only a new technology meme, but seismic shift from current computing experiences and practices. It is the harbinger of more liberating ways of interaction with computers, information and entertainment. Pediction: These trends will continue to fully take shape in the next 10 years, but the tablet experience is the first instance of this future right here and now, and people want a part of it, with a completely new interactive and gesture enabled way of computing, completely new usage scenarios and use cases, completely new interfaces. In short: It is all about a new user experience that is self-directed, intuitive, integrates with your life.
The “mobile aspect” is important for things other than just mobility. Mobile is important because it creates and leads to the user experiences of the future.
Why have mobile smartphone apps been so important in shaping user experience of modern tablet apps, and the web?
Mobile (smartphone) apps have been a precursor, important insofar as that they introduced new design thinking: they have forced us to re-design interfaces and human computer interaction from the very beginning. Over the last 20 years computing had become increasingly complex, requiring high skill levels, geekery and knowledge. Mobile has reversed this trend, sent designers back to the drawing board to simplify, to create intuitive experiences, and opened up computing to the less educated masses, to broader use cases. It has tackled complex tasks (payments, ordering, inventory management etc) in such a simple way that these once complex transactions can be easily completed on mobile phone.
And the iPad and tablet apps now represents a slight design expansion from the smartphone design contraction: A new form factor to apply the knowledge and best practices gained with mobile phone apps, and with it’s larger screen real estate now can create experiences that are still intuitive, easily understood, but also more attractive, more akin to reading a sheet of paper, a more natural human size for interacting with information, for gestures with more than just a thumb, less contrived than some of the overly spartan experiences of smartphones.
And looking at the statistics, the tablet has introduced an ecosystem of apps that are about more than just games and utilities, and have real educational, business and brand experience value in addition to being entertaining.