The big screen in our family room rarely comes on anymore.
You'd think that would be a good thing. And if it would be, if it meant our three kids were out in the yard playing or riding bikes, or perhaps reading a new novel. More often they're watching TV or playing video games on their iPads.
As a parent, I find their habit troubling. As an investor, I believe tablets will be the next generation's dominant form of computing. I'll have three ideas for how to profit from the shift by the end of this article. First, let's talk a bit more about why tablets resonate so well.
A history of tablet use (and abuse) Our oldest bought an iPad 2 more than a year ago. The younger two got theirs -- an iPad 2 for our daughter, a Mini for our youngest son -- for Christmas. Ever since, it's been tough to pry them away. They like watching TV and Internet video far too much. And why not? For them, TV isn't a device. It's just software.
Courtesy: Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) Press InfoYou can imagine what I think of this as a parent. Passive media that goes everywhere? No, thanks. I'd much rather they read, play, and create than merely consume.
Here's the problem: I'm the one who taught my kids that a tablet could make for an awesome TV.
Shortly after I received a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 for attending Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)'s 2010 developer conference, I experimented with ways to turn it into a TV. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) didn't comply at first, nor did Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), as both companies struggled to stay current with differing versions of the Android operating system. Only YouTube worked as advertised.
Meanwhile, my wife became accustomed to taking her first-generation iPad on the treadmill. Netflix worked perfectly for streaming Mad Men, while HBO2GO offered its own set of compelling alternatives. She even tried Hulu Plus for a time, at my urging, to entertain our then-Kindergarten age son while waiting in the school pickup line for his older siblings.
Thus, if there's anyone to blame for our kids' iPad addiction, it's this guy (two thumbs, pointed inward).
I find myself intrigued by how quickly my kids have taken to "apps" as tools for embellishing their lives. My kids are aware of and attuned to software in ways I never was growing up.
Welcome to the new world of apps Apps are more like pills than chunky software programs like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT)'s Word. They stimulate, satisfying a distinct and easily identifiable need in a short burst of code.