Rupert Murdoch has predicted that tablets will be laptop killers.  Some may think this is crazy. But Murdoch is crazy like a fox (pun intended.) A good headline-grabbing quote can spread the word of the newly launched The Daily iPad app. There are a couple of interesting technology trends here.

First of all, I see the explosion of iPads and the other tablets as the future salvation of large national newspapers and other media companies. I get so much for free online from the New York Times, for example, that it never made much sense to subscribe to their premium online content. If they locked up everything behind a paid firewall, then they might lose their relevance and role. If newspapers Athrough D publish a certain degree of news content for free, then if E and F decline to do so, they may just find no one cares. So most outlets have published much content online for free and hoped in vain that online advertising revenue would grow. But an iPad app, that lets me load the entire newspaper on my iPad before I board a plane, that lets me look back at a week's worth of archives and provides me links to videos, websites with more information and more picture than were in the print edition all with a slick interface and search capability. Well, that may well be worth paying for. The largest newspaper in Oklahoma has launched an iPad app and my guess is all big city papers are (or should) be rushing to do the same.

My guess is that reports of the death of the laptop are premature. For me, the laptop is still the superior device for writing a term paper or a legal brief. What will probably save the laptop for a good number of years is that it is (somewhat ironically given the name) still the superior device for working at a desk or a table.

But the tablet is superior in a number of other ways: best for using on an airplane, best for reading an e-book, best for using while reclining on a sofa or in bed, to name a few. My initial impression is that those individuals and families who can afford it will have various computer devices for various uses, including a smart phone for immediate access. As they upgrade their devices, the old ones won't go away, but will be used by those who couldn't afford or didn't choose to invest in the higher-priced new versions.

it should be interesting to watch this trend quickly develop. For lawyers in trials, it may also not be an either/or situation. The second chair or paralegal may be seated at counsel table with a powerful laptop while the lawyer at the podium questioning the witness will likely use an iPad or tablet because a laptop could be distracting to the finder of fact. And of course, the lawyers at counsel table will be able to feed questions, comments and documents to the lawyer who is speaking. The lead counsel maintaining focus will be a new skill set to master.