infoTECH Feature

December 01, 2010

(20)10 Days of Techness: On the First Day of Techness IT Gave to We... Tablets

Welcome to the (20)10 Days of Techness. This is the first installment of a 10-part series of postings that will discuss prevalent trends during past year. Happy Holidays!

This year started off with a boom when, in late January, Apple (News - Alert) unveiled the iPad.

“iPad is our most advanced technology in a magical and revolutionary device at an unbelievable price,” said Steve Jobs (News - Alert), Apple’s CEO, in introducing the tablet computer. “iPad creates and defines an entirely new category of devices that will connect users with their apps and content in a much more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.”

The $499 device, which features a color 9.7-inch touch screen, can enable users to browse the web, read and send e-mail, enjoy photos, watch videos, listen to music, play games, read e-books, and interface with other applications.

But because the iPad looks like a bigger version of the iPhone (and without calling capabilities) and doesn’t have any capabilities (except the touch screen) not already found on your standard laptop, it led many industry pundits and other observers to scratch their heads and wonder whether this new device really had a particular purpose – or, more importantly, a market.

The market quickly answered at least the second question as sales of the iPad went through the roof and other high-tech companies including Avaya, HP, Samsung and others scrambled to bring their own tablets to market.

According to Gartner (News - Alert), the iPad will propel the worldwide sale of media tablets to 19.5 million units this year. The research and consulting firm expects tablet sales to increase 181 percent to 54.8 million units in 2011. Gartner and IDC also have indicated that the rise of the tablet may be putting a damper on PC sales as both consumer and business users debate whether to buy personal computers or to instead embrace the tablet.

“I’ve had lots of discussions with people about what iPad can be used for in organizations, but very few of them involved a well-defined business case,” Gartner’s Nick Jones blogged in October. “As I’ve said before, the current iPad is functionally feeble relative to a decent laptop; there are many things you just can’t do adequately on one. They’re more content consumption devices than content creation devices. So the number of employees for whom the iPad is a viable laptop replacement is small. There are certainly some people who could use an iPad as a PC substitute, maybe students, doctors, sales staff, and so on. But these are minorities in most organizations. For 95 percent of employees with PCs it makes no economic sense to buy and manage a third device in addition to a smartphone and a laptop.

“However, this will change if organizations continue to shift applications to the cloud, because then the endpoint becomes increasingly irrelevant,” he adds. “So over time iPads and similar devices will become more viable PC replacements.”

Beyond that, Steven Johnson, president of Ingate Systems (News - Alert), says that the introduction of the iPad and similar devices is another step toward unified communications.

The iPad, and the iPhone before it, also have pushed companies throughout the communications space to re-examine their solutions and try to focus more on products and interfaces that are both intuitive and fun to use.

“It used to be about function,” notes Ernie Wallerstein Jr., president of Zeacom (News - Alert). “Now it’s also about form.”

Christian Von Reventlow, vice president of new products at Avaya, says that using fun products and user-friendly interfaces to collaborate can make such interaction a pleasure.

That was the goal of Avaya when it set out to build the Avaya Flare Experience, which is the interface for the Avaya tablet and is expected to be used on other devices in the future.


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