In the last few months before the much, much anticipated iPad was launched on January 27, 2010, competitors had been talking up their own tablets. Then suddenly it was rumored that Apple’s one was going to be called the iSlate and competitors such as Microsoft were calling everything they could ‘slate PCs.’
Three days before the iPad was announced, Microsoft’s then-CEO Steve Ballmer even unveiled three such slate PCs. He did so in his typical hesitant, clunky style and launched a video that was over practically before he’d introduced it.
Given that and the way he belabored that all the slate PCs he showed were prototypes, it all felt a little desperate. Apple was coming, it seemed to say, and rivals were afraid.
Microsoft, for one, should really have been feeling chagrin. As far back as 1996, its founder Bill Gates wrote in his book The Road Ahead that “in the future lots of people will be taking handwritten notes on computer tablets rather than paper.”