tablets, technology, Apple, Microsoft, Google

It’s getting ugly out there and it’s going to get a lot uglier. Microsoft, Apple, and Google are openly bashing their competitors in the tablet market. It’s well known that 2013 growth depends on tablet sales so the stakes are extremely high. Apple has the obvious advantage of being first in the new space, but the next steps won’t be so obvious. Apple generally ignores the cries of the business community and sticks to its consumer roots. This leaves a hole for Microsoft and Google to fill. Google often tries to straddle both worlds and comes off unfocused.

As with personal computers, Microsoft and Google have an advantage over Apple in the software market but a distinct disadvantage in the hardware arena. Apple chooses to tightly control its operating system and limits its use to their proprietary hardware. This allows them to charge premium prices. Microsoft and Google allow their operating systems to be used by other manufacturers, thus creating competition for their own hardware devices. The Microsoft Surface, for instance, will have to compete with Dell’s Latitude 10, Samsung’s Slate, Acer’s Iconia and many others all running Microsoft Windows 8. Google will have similar competition for its Nexus from Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, and many others.

Since the iPad was first introduced in 2010, the business community has looked for a way to make it a real business tool rather than an expensive toy. While some business applications have been added in recent versions, it has been a real stretch for most businesses to get any ROI on these devices. Windows 8 tablets offer new hope to some. The ability to install traditional desktop applications, join network domains, etc. should provide a better role for tablets at work. While the release of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Pro version of the Surface is in limbo, Dell’s is set to ship in mid-December.

With the current marketing blitzes, it will be easy to get caught up in the hype, but we’re cautioning our clients to hang in there for a little bit longer. With so many new tablets being released, and with Windows 8 still in its infancy, a lot of mistakes are to be expected. Consult with your IT professionals to help you evaluate the options and determine if tablets are right for your needs. While the prices are coming down, they are still very expensive if they end up collecting dust in a desk drawer or hosting games for an employee’s pre-teen. In fact, it might be a good time to hold off on some PC purchases if there is a chance to replace a desktop for a tablet down the road. This is highly unlikely for most of our users, but it could be a good option for those who travel and/or don’t need a lot of computing power.

Also, we’re still not sold on the “Bring your own device” concept. This has the potential to be very expensive and risky for most businesses. We suggest that you have a tablet policy along with company-issued tablets for those users who need them. Control the costs by controlling the environment. That doesn’t mean that you can’t allow users to check e-mail on their personal tablets, but limiting access to company data is still important.

Tablets combined with cloud computing will open up a new world of options…but be patient for now. If you have questions or need help evaluating tablets for your business, call Promethius at 317-733-2388.