Business Issues -> Innovation
By: Matthew Wailling, Director, Cordless Consultants
Published: 13th September 2011
Copyright Cordless Consultants © 2011
Whilst 2011 is very much the year of the tablet, the concept itself isn’t all that new, with its forefather dating back to 1993 in the shape of the Apple Newton followed in 1996 by the better-remembered Pilot 1000 from Palm. To put this timeline in context, whilst many were excitedly learning how to use the “graffiti input zone” on the Palm and installing the desktop software via floppy disk to Windows 3.1 PCs, Charles and Diana were finalising divorce proceedings and Piece Brosnan had only just saved the world for the first time. (Although this may have gone unnoticed by many who were wowed by the massive 4MB of memory offered by the Palm wonder device)
Roll on 10 years, Daniel Craig gets “00” status, , and the tablet development continued. 2006 saw collaboration between Microsoft, Intel and Samsung which produced the Samsung Q1. This was a daring move into a new category of device—the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC). This “fully functioning” PC had a 7 inch touch screen, 512MB RAM, ran Windows Vista and was about the size of an A5 note pad. The UMPC aimed to bridge the gap between PDAs and Laptops at a time when BlackBerries were gaining traction (having recently passed 5 million global users), whilst Palm was concentrating on the Trio Smart phone. The Q1 was certainly innovative and whenever I showed it in client workshops it always impressed, but it never really established a market share. The tablet boom only occurred as recently as last year when the iPad (1) was released—with Apple selling 3 million in 80 days.
It’s interesting to see the difference between the success of the Q1 and the iPad and, if Gartner is to be believed, the successes of any tablet will be linked to the desire by users to buy a tablet that runs the same OS as their phone, so they can share apps across devices. In many ways this harks back to the point I made in my last blog (about 3D display) that “content is king”. Ultimately, this isn’t really a hardware revolution, it’s all about software.
The tablet revolution is well underway with in excess of 100 different flavours now available, across a range of platforms with some 15 million units sold globally in Q2 this year. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Apple holds a healthy share of the tablet market, shipping 61% of all tablets in Q2 2011, but this was a fall from the market dominance of 94% it had last year. Big names entering the field have clearly impacted the market and will continue to do so. The biggest impact has come from tablets using the Android operating system. This includes HTC, Motorola and, with a follow up to the Q1, Samsung now has the “Galaxy Tab”. Sony is bringing not one but two tablets (the S1 & S2) hoping to further dent the Apple dominance.
The Sony approach is intriguing, the S1 is a “traditional” tablet and comes with a 9.4” screen but the S2 has two 5.5” screens which could be a powerful asset to enabling multi app and dual screen working but as a Sony product, don’t expect to see it in the Tesco Value section on the pricing scale.
In addition to the devices using Apple (iOS) and Android (Honeycomb) platforms, there are two other major players we need to consider, the BlackBerry Playbook from RIM and the Cius from Cisco. The Playbook is curious from a branding perspective as one of the last things many would associate with the BlackBerry brand is play. But with a 7” screen, it's highly portable and very adept at inducing death by PowerPoint thanks to an HDMI output port which lets you link to an external display. It also has many of the security features that have helped make BlackBerry handsets the choice for many. The Playbook does have two limiting factors however. The first is a distinct lack of available apps and therefore content, and the second is that, unless you have a BlackBerry phone, the Playbook can’t easily manage calendar or email. This will probably change, but at the moment there are plenty of other devices that don’t face this problem. The Playbook is clearly aimed at the enterprise market first and the consumer second but for a pure business-only device, then look at the Cisco Cius.
The Cius offers a neat solution to corporate mobility and desktop video (both growing trends) by docking at the desk to form an IP phone with voice and video capability. So whilst the Cius costs considerably more than an IP desk phone, it is certainly less than a personal Telepresence system. Nonetheless, the Cius has a similar drawback to the Playbook in that it needs supporting proprietary systems to offer full functionality. In this instance Cisco UC is needed to run the phone/video features, which effectively rules out home users. This point can be argued away to a degree if you are a Cisco house and want to stay that way for some time but it becomes trickier to justify the cost when we already see a number of firms exploring the use of Facetime on the already cheaper iPad to provide “free” personal video conference calls. It is perhaps best to view the Cius not against other tablets, but against other IP phones.
Ultimately, we need to understand the drivers behind the adoption of tablets. Initial growth has been in the consumer market with the iPad and, although these offer great functionality, even the most diehard Apple enthusiast has to admit there is a bit of image statement in their purchase decision somewhere. That isn’t an irrelevant point for IT managers when choosing tablets for customer facing staff as the use of a tablet can project an image of a dynamic firm adopting modern tools. The provision of desirable devices to any member of staff (customer facing or not) can also be a boost to morale and a sign staff are valued, but these soft benefits are difficult to demonstrate to the FD. Perhaps one answer is the high tech version of having a glass of wine in an unlicensed restaurant—BYOD.
BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is exactly what is sounds like and, as a policy, is gathering pace. The concept is simple; give a fixed financial allowance to staff and let them buy a device of their choice. This gives employees the choice they inevitably want and removes hassle and cost of providing support services for IT managers (well, some of it anyway). There are obvious policies and procedures that are needed to enable this—not least the provision of Citrix to allow secure access to data from “untrusted” devices and suitable maintenance contracts purchased with devices, but it is certainly a novel way to solving a complex issue. A blue sky concept, possibly, but certainly not pie in the sky because, as cloud computing gathers yet more pace and SaaS is increasingly adopted, this model becomes viable. BYOD has already been rolled out across Kraft foods and the Law Firm SNR Denton.
So what does the future hold? Even if BYOD is too radical for you, the concept of using tablets to access cloud-based apps is sound and, if it becomes a key driver for adoption, this could have significant impact on the tablet market.
Vizio, the hugely successful US manufacturer of cheap flat screen TVs has recently launched (in the US) the sub £200 tablet. Operating on Android v2.3 (Gingerbread) it may not offer the rich experience of the latest Motorola tablet (which uses the latest Android v 3.0 Honeycomb) but this is expected as a future upgrade and may offer a solution that moves us further to mass adoption.
Helping tablet adoption further, in early 2012 we will see the launch of Windows 8—the Microsoft platform designed with the tablet in mind—and this will surely close the gap in functionality between tablets and laptops. However, by then we are sure to have the iPad 3 as well and, if you speak to pretty much any tablet user, they are usually a huge advocate of their choice of device whether it’s Apple, Android or AN Other. Perhaps this is another compelling reason for BYOD because when Windows 8 hits the screens in 2012 so will the next instalment of James Bond and, as Jerry Seinfield said:
"When you enjoy something, you must never let logic get too much in the way. Like the villains in all the James Bond movies. Whenever Bond breaks into the complex: 'Ah, Mr. Bond, welcome, come in. Let me show you my entire evil plan and then put you in a death machine that doesn't work'
Posted: 13th September 2011 | By frank garcia :
BYOD is an interesting concept. But I still not convinced about if it will really low the support time from the IT team. My experience is that the average user never gets to know and use a Tablet or phone fully. So this means that you will have to create guides for most of the things relative to your company.
Frank J Garcia
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