Sorry PC lovers, but tablets aren't going away

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY With the Apple (AAPL) iPad 3 announcement Wednesday, there seems to be two sides developing. (As if that should be any surprise in high tech.) On one side are the PC diehards who insist that everyone will keep using PCs because of the power and ease with which they handle certain tasks.

Then there is the Apple-centric crowd like MG Siegler, who thinks that "using a computer is not a natural thing." Of course, the combination of touch and speech that he thinks is a step in the right direction is hardly a natural thing either. Easier in some ways than a mouse and keyboard, but a lot tougher in others, depending on what you want to do.

On CNET: Apple iPad live blog

The problem is that many people seem to be lining up based on devices -- things. Blogger Jim Dalrymple gets closer when he says that PCs and tablets are just different. People use them for different reasons.

Can you cross over between devices? Certainly. I'm typing this on an Asus Transformer Prime tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard. Clumsy moving between writing, websites, images and the like, but it works and is a much lighter combination than toting a laptop, and that was the most important thing.

And thats the point. The whole PC versus tablet argument is about things. It leads to factions based on who makes what -- or who has a fanboy's allegience. That leads much of the industry into ineptitude. Companies focus on themselves and what they want, not on the customers.

Tablets will continue to take a lot of market share from PCs because they do what many people need. If you want to watch videos, surf the web, listen to music, read ebooks or check email, tablets are good. They're not going to disappear. Laptop unit sales eventually supplanted those of desktop PCs because more people found the design more useful.

However, tablets aren't perfect by any means. Glass and metal can be cold to handle, particularly if you live someplace that gets chilly in the winter. They aren't fluid if you need to enter large amounts of text or do extensive editing of images.

So long as companies focus on whether to make this device or that one, they won't think beyond the limitations of the form factors. Instead of deciding whether tablets or PCs are "the" device, they should keep looking for better ways of doing what people want to do. What is necessary is not simply grasping on to what might sell, but finding what will better serve customers. That's what Apple did with the iPad. And if other companies did the same, they might come up with the next great idea.

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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.