The iPad Is the Only Game in Town…So Far

One of the drivers for looking at end user computing at the moment, above and beyond just looking at the desktop, is the rise of the tablet. We have more options(and challenges) now than just the traditional Windows desktop PC. Everybody working in enterprise IT (architecture, operations, security and management) is trying to figure out how to deal with the huge demand for tablets. Or are they? My experience is that the issues that enterprise IT is facing from the post-PC era, from the consumerisation of IT is mostly demand driven. And that demand is only for iPads, not tablets in general. Smartphones are a different story, in that space there is not just one game in town, but while smartphones are an important part of the corporate IT landscape they aren’t the game changer that tablets – iPads – are. Yes there are Android tablets out there, but , aside from apple-haters and technicians working in our IT department I don’t have anyone asking for one. I’ve taken a look at android tablets and my feeling is that in general they are six months to a year from being serious competition to the iPad. So, in six months I expect to start seeing the demand for android tablets to make an impact on me.

What about Windows tablets? Well, I don’t seriously expect to see competitive Windows Phone 7 tablets. By the time someone gets around to having a decent Windows tablet, I expect Windows 8 to be out. As Windows 8 is expressly for the tablet form factor, while Windows Phone 7 is designed for the phone form factor I believe that we are unlikely to see serious Windows based tablets before Windows 8 is released some time late next year.

The one non-apple tablet on the market, that I think I may need to take into consideration is the Kindle Fire – Amazon’s new android tablet. It seems to me that three factors mean that this could be a serious competitor for the iPad: (1) the price point; (2) amazon’s expertise in user experience; and, (3) the amazon ecosystem (already shown to great effect with the kindle). And, it seems that I’m not the only one who thinks so. So until the demand for the Kindle fire picks up, or some other android competitor is launched, I’ll be looking for a general tablet solution, but I really only have an iPad problem. Looking into the future my architectures for end user computing need to consider a multiplicity of platforms (even if that number is only realistically two), but my burning issue is just dealing with one.

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