When smartphones first appeared, I thought “I have my laptop with me all the time, why would I want to surf the web on a tiny screen?” The same with tablets. I have a laptop. I don’t need another, less functional, thing to surf the net on.

This was certainly true when I was working most days. And I was in front of a laptop and a big screen for most of the day.

Lately, I have been surfing more on my phone. The laptop only comes on in the afternoon. So the morning’s news and catch-ups, Facebook and Twitter, email and even the odd blog post, are all done on the phone.

So what changed?

It is small and very portable – good for many locations and positions where the laptop is not practicable.

It is always on. There is no start-up or wake up. (Ok in reality if I had to turn the thing off it takes almost as long as Windows XP takes to boot – so I never turn it off.)

It is more than “good enough” for me to access all the sites I need to access regularly including Javascript, PDFs and Flash.

Perhaps a tablet is next. Something slightly less cramped than a 3" screen – perhaps a 7" one. Android – so I can use it to test Java apps on… It is interesting how technology grows to be come a “need” very quickly.

I wonder how we could turn tablets into commonly “needed” business tools (beyond the traditional vertical tablet markets.) Do we do it with general apps like note taking and form filling? Or perhaps with apps tailored to the workflow processes of individual businesses? Can you imagine a key business process of yours running on a tablet?