The Tablet Invasion
There are some real similarities to the early days of the PC industry when we had few standards and lots of compatibility issues as a result.
But that was then. This time around the compatibility problems are more easily solved because of our ability to access tools and applications via the Web. Desktop virtualization and cloud capabilities will take this a step further, effectively negating compatibility issues in many cases.
This means there is likely to be room for many more operating systems in the mobile device category than there have been in the PC market. To date, we are looking at five operating systems in Apple’s Mac OS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows, HP’s WebOS and BlackBerry. Will the market support five or more?
If the smartphone market is an indicator, then we can conclude yes, given that there are those five we have in tablet in addition to Symbian. Over time this could change in the tablet market, but we may see an open-source solution come to market as well before we see any consolidation.
In the end, this OS war over the long haul is less important than it was in the PC market. One would think the OS with the best and most diverse applications in the tablet arena will win, but even this isn’t as easily determined in the new computing world as it was in the old. Desktop virtualization allows a much easier and cleaner way to deliver the applications most needed by the individual on multiple devices.
What’s going to be important in my opinion is whether I can virtualize my PC desktop on the tablet, smartphone and any other mobile device in such a way that I can deliver the same productivity I get in the office as when I’m out in the field. This is quickly going to be a real and lucrative opportunity for partners, some of whom have told me they are already selling tablets at 200 a clip into some of their customer bases.
The life-cycle refresh for tablets is going to be much shorter than for PCs for the next few years as suppliers rapidly add features and functions to these devices as a point of differentiation.
Interestingly, right now three of the five OS suppliers also sell the hardware. Will that be an advantage in the tablet arena where it wasn’t in the PC market? There are advantages to both approaches, so only time will tell.
Regardless, it’s time for solution providers to get serious about the tablet as a solution and to begin to think about the integration of this category.
There are applications for sales forces, insurance adjusters, package delivery carriers, doctors and other health care providers, the military and thousands of other deployments where computing power in a mobile device is a game-changer.
If I were starting a solution provider business today, I would seriously consider building it around virtualization at the desktop level and integration with tablets. This market is seeing explosive growth and it has yet to really take off.
A few years from now, the lines between the devices used for personal use and those used for business applications will be gone. Just take a look around and see how many people are using company-issued smartphones for personal use and personally acquired tablets for business use, and you’ll understand what I’m referring to.