Tablets Will Create a Few Headaches

As we predicted, there’s a torrent of tablets at Mobile World Congress this year. But it’s not their availability that’s been the topic of conversation here, but rather the business model that’ll deliver these new devices into the hands of consumers.

There are still so many unknowns for everyone in the market — Wi-Fi or 3G? Operator or retail channel? Seven- or 10-inch screen? What about five-inch and nine-inch models? Subsidy or not?

During my discussions with many people this week in Barcelona, I’ve noted a considerable cooling of the fervour we saw at the end of 2010.

It’s also clear that some players, like Telefonica, Vodafone and even some device manufacturers, are going to sit out the early market and watch how it develops before making any big moves. That might have looked strange only a few weeks ago, but could be seen as common sense now.

The sheer number of tablets has also confirmed that prices will tumble, either from competition or because the pace of development will make standing out from the crowd nigh on impossible.

I was looking for some answers this week. In fact, an overdose of tablets might have left me asking more questions than ever.