As tablets get more and more powerful in terms of processing and multi-tasking prowess, they compete with the notebooks, especially the netbook variants, more closely. And as that happens, tablets’ abilities as computing devices gets pronounced and changes their positioning, which currently is that of a media-and-access device.

As is often pointed out, the most significant specifics that limit tablets as media-and-access devices are the physical keyboard and mouse, or the lack of those. Not surprisingly therefore, tablet makers have been offering keyboard docks as accessories to go with the tablets.

Docks are not a new concept and have existed for long. Many notebooks too have a docking option and so do many smart phones and MP3 players. In fact, the docking station has become a market sub-segment of its own within the larger accessories segment. Also, much evolution has happened over the years in terms of form factors, design and aesthetics of the docks. Yet, one important development remained missing from a consumer standpoint—a dock is very much tethered to a specific device family and doesn’t have the ability to support other devices of a similar genre.

So while an iPad can be synced up with only an Apple iPad dock, a Samsung Tab will also go along only with a compatible Samsung dock. A consumer wanting to change her or his tablet device will therefore need to change the dock as well, which could cost around Rs 3,000 or even more.

There is a potential opportunity for accessory makers in bringing out docks that can support multiple tablet devices and even better, smart phones too. Given that it’s already common for a number of ICT consumers to keep multiple devices, the uptake of docks that can support those devices would be potentially significant.

Users of multiple devices are already faced with a problem of unwanted plenty in the form of various accessories that clutter their living rooms and desks. That clutter could appreciably come down if accessories that can support multiple devices and functions can start coming up. And that could attract and bring more consumers to the fold of accessories. Could multi-tablet keyboard docks be a start?

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