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Greg Parsonson, vice president of Systems at Tech Data, said his company currently sells Apple's iPad Hewlett-Packard Slate Windows-based tablet and a Viewsonic Android-powered product, but the Clearwater, Fla.-based distributor plans to add more devices very soon.
"Coming away from CES, Android is a formidable force in the slate and tablet space. I'd say about half of what we saw demonstrated was on Windows and half was on Android," Parsonson said.
As more products and more platforms hit the market, solution providers that can support multiple OSes will be ahead of the game, Parsonson said.
"I anticipate it being easy enough to support all three platforms [Apple, Android and Windows]. That's how it will be positioned. And each OS is doing a good job to make sure it's easy for [VARs] to participate in any of the three," he said.
Kevin Murai, president and CEO of Synnex, said Android-powered devices will also see considerable uptick once more bandwidth is available through major mobile carriers on 4G networks and when applications are developed for true business value.
"The actual apps themselves are not going to be characterized as off the shelf. There's off-the-shelf e-mail connectivity [as an example] but integration into the business workflow, that's where we'll focus: on the very specific application layer," Murai said.
Executives for Ingram Micro were not available, but a spokeswoman said the Santa Ana, Calif.-based distributor is also ramping up its portfolio of Android-powered tablets and smart phones, as well as those from competing platforms.
Solution providers should be driving business applications into more mobile devices, as well as integrating smartphones and tablets into existing solutions, Schwab said.
Distributors also might play a role working with application developers or even with solution providers themselves to customize apps specifically for vertical markets or other business needs, said Tech Data's Parsonson.
"It could be health care, legal, education. The real value [end users] see from the apps, it'll get them into the whole solution and the VARs can guide them towards appropriate apps," he said. "You need to align to the needs of the end user community."
Added SED's Kalman, "The tablet lends itself to some of that. There are new waves of [apps] in health care, new ways to run the business. The tablet currently lends itself more to the consumer space, but as the next generation comes out, there will be more opportunity for business."