Apple has always been considered a consumer technology company, not an enterprise one. Yet the success of its iPad has just about every enterprise-oriented hardware vendor out there, from Research in Motion to HP to Lenovo, introducing tablets to compete with the iPad.
It isn’t clear yet whether tablets will be a real game changer as laptops and PCs before them were, or a trend in need of a compelling use case like netbooks.
The tablet buzz is growing as more reports emerge of companies making good use of iPads. In September I wrote about MicroStrategy’s deployment of 1,100 iPads to executives and sales personnel, with a company executive saying the tablets were boosting productivity and cost less than laptops.
SAP, which has 2,500 iPads in use, is modifying its infrastructure to support other mobile devices as well, writes InformationWeek’s Bob Evans. SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann recommends using a central device management tool to facilitate security, provisioning and retirement in a multi-device model. Not surprisingly, SAP uses a tool called Afaria, produced by its wholly-owned subsidiary Sybase
Management tools must be able to address the blurring between personal and professional lives that tends to occur with tablets and other mobile devices, Bussmann tells Evans, with the ability to wipe corporate data and content from a personal device when an employee leaves the company while also preserving personal data. IT organizations will need to respond more quickly to users’ requests for upgrades, which will mirror the rapid pace of manufacturers introducing new features, Bussmann says.
Bussmann tells Evans SAP started with basic office productivity tools such as e-mail, calendars, VPN access, desktops over Citrix and people directory. SAP employees also use a mobile app from the company’s Business Objects business intelligence software for on-the-fly KPI monitoring and data analysis. Bussmann calls it “the No. 1 solution people want across our different user groups.” Bussmann mentions the app is especially popular among sales and marketing staff, who benefit from access to the most up-to-date data, a key requirement for mobile BI.
SAP used in-memory technology to move its entire CRM database, with three terabytes of data and more than 12 million records, into its Hana appliance. Using an iPad outfitted with Business Objects software as a front end, SAP sales personnel can “analyze 650,000 opportunities in real time,” Bussmann says. The combination of mobile devices and in-memory processing “lets salespeople get the answers and insights they need without having to wait 10 or 20 or 30 seconds.”
Bussmann isn’t the only CIO talking up tablets’ potential. In a CIO.com interview, Google CIO Ben Fried encourages CIOs to waste no time in formulating tablet strategies. He says:
Some people already feel that they’re behind on the game on this. But if you look at the variety of Android tablets coming out, it’s clear that it will be a diverse landscape and you have a chance to get in ahead of this. CIOs are going to have to think about software delivery. Are we going to buy software for these tablets? Do we have to think about training for our development organizations to learn how to build for these things? Do we have to think about optimizing Web browser experiences to work for this stuff? CIOs need to have a strategy and opinions about tablets because it will be the next personal computing platform that we’re expected to provide at the enterprise, and very quickly. It will be this year.
Check out 12 Hot Tablets Available Now or Soon!
It’s no surprise the iPad is finding support in the enterprise. It’s Apple and it’s cool. At a higher level, though, it’s worth comparing the fast adoption of the new tablet with the slower and tentative acceptance of the iPhone when it was introduced three years ago. The difference says as much about the coalescing of consumer and business wireless as the quality of the devices themselves.
Clearly, however, the market is expanding at a brisk pace with many new competitive tablets being introduced to the public. Check out the following 12 of the newest tablet devices, in no special order.
Quanta Computer has been tasked with manufacturing Research in Motion’s PlayBook. The tablet, which will reportedly cost $499, will have Wi-Fi connections, Bluetooth technology and have rear- and front-facing cameras. The PlayBook will not have any cellular connectivity and will serve as a companion device to RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones. It’s rumored that the PlayBook will diverge from the BlackBerry OS 6 in favor of a QNX-developed OS.
Cisco Cius is a mobile collaboration business tablet that delivers virtual desktop integration anywhere along with full access to Cisco’s collaboration and communication applications. The Android-powered tablet will have a 7-inch screen, run on an Intel Atom processor and feature rear- and front-facing cameras for videoconferencing. It will support Wi-Fi and 3G, offer 32 gigabytes of Flash and cost less than $1,000.
First available in Europe, the Dell Streak is a smartphone/tablet hybrid being offered through AT&T in the U.S. Equipped with a 5-inch WVGA touchscreen and Android 1.6, the Dell Streak has enough wiggle room between the smartphone and tablet categories to either succeed or fail.
The HP Slate 500 tablet is targeted toward enterprise users who don’t usually work at a traditional desk, yet need to stay productive in a secure Windows environment. The HP Slate 500 has a 9-inch monitor and is equipped to run Windows 7 Professional 32 on a 1.86 GHz Intel Atom processor. The unit includes an internal 64 GB solid state flash drive and can include an external USB 2.0 CD/DVD R/RW.
Toshiba has released two limited-edition dual-screen tablets in the Libretto W100 and Libretto W105, but all eyes are on the company’s Android tablet. Toshiba unveiled the Folio 100 tablet at IFA 2010 in Berlin. The device features a 10.1 -inch display, runs Android 2.2 and Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor runs underneath its hood. The Folio 100 also includes 16GB of memory, supports Bluetooth 2.1, is equipped with a HDMI output, two USB ports, a SD memory card slot and has 802.11 b/g/n wireless and 3G mobile data connectivity.
HP’s acquisition of Palm saw it ditch its Android tablet plans in favor of Palm’s WebOS. The PalmPad, which will launch in early 2011, has its sights squarely focused on Apple’s iPad and the consumer market.
LG’s Optimus tablet is a good competitor. The device runs Android. LG is confident it will best the iPad with a device that will be more productive. The company plans to release a Windows 7 UX10 tablet in the future as well.
Acer unveiled a 7-inch touchscreen tablet at a presentation in China last May. Unlike many tablets, the device features a QWERTY keyboard that makes it reminiscent of Amazon’s Kindle. The Acer tablet ran an unknown version of Android during the demonstration.
Windows 7 Tablet
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer says the company is preparing a Windows 7 tablet to take on Apple’s iPad. Although Microsoft’s tablet position has been criticized by some, including IT Business Edge’s Rob Enderle, the company is working with Intel and other computer makers to optimize the tablet computers.
In a similar vein to the Dell Streak, OpenPeak is developing a multimedia touchscreen device that can also make phone calls. The OpenTablet 7 is a Flash-based tablet will differentiate itself through the use of OpenPeak’s energy-management software. Backed by the likes of Intel Capital and GE, OpenPeak recently secured $52 million in new investment.
Available soon, Net Neutrality cohorts Google and Verizon helped Motorola develop this tablet. It has a dual-core processor, and Google’s Honeycomb software. In addition, it will have back and rear-facing cameras and a 10.1 inch display.
This article can also be found on ITBusinessEdge.com