2010 – The Year of the Tablet

In April 2010, Apple computers legitimatized the tablet computing platform when it began sales of the iPad. They did this by re-inventing what a tablet is – by creating a device that was not an alternative to a full-blown PC or laptop but rather an extension of those computing devices.

With almost 15 million units sold by the end of 2010 has proven this fact and as we enter 2011 we will see many many new manufactures such as Motorola, Samsung and Reseach In Motion releasing their own tablets using Android OS or QNX and building on the iPad formula;

  • devices that extends the desktop but does not replace it;
  • devices that are light-weight and nimble;
  • devices that lets you easily access your content for presenting and editing but not necessarily creating (although you can create as well);
  • devices that are “fun” to use for personal entertainment as well as for business grunt work;
  • devices that are connected to the cloud via WiFi or 3G/4G mobile data;
  • devices that don’t try to be more than what are but do what they do superbly…

Prior to the release of the iPad, computer manufacturers tried to make tablets alternatives to the desktop and laptop computers we were all using. They were heavy, ran full-blown operating systems like Windows, used pen/stylus based input and utilized heavier power-draining processors and storage which limited the usefulness of the devices while on-the-go. Although incredibly convenient for the business traveler by enabling anywhere productivity, even the conventional laptop was limited to 2-6 hours of battery life and despite smaller size from desktop computers still imposed challenges for the on the go road-warrior. Ever try to type a revenue report stuck in coach on a transatlantic flight – not a pleasant experience using a cramp keyboard, tiny trackpad or mouse and a battery that dies ¼ of the way through the flight. Not fun!

Along comes the iPad – a device with fast Flash memory, a capacitive touch-screen leveraging a simple tap and swipe interface and no keyboard. A device with battery life pushing 10+ hours – long enough to outlast the hardiest of workaholic road-warrior and multimedia capabilities that allow the business traveler to deliver a knock-out presentation in the boardroom to reading a eBook and listening to their favorite music artist on the flight home. It is quite amazing how much the iPad concept has transformed the life for the traveling business person. You can walk on to any plane nowadays and find a significant number of travelers using an iPad (tablet) for work and play and the iPad has become standard equipment for the tradeshow circuit. This evolution from desktops and laptops will evolve even faster in 2011 with more and more manufactures jumping into the fray and pushing tablets that leverage latest technologies and talking advantage new wireless connectivity options.

The business traveler will have numerous choices in 2011 when it comes to tablets and their usefulness will continue to grow. Don’t be surprised to see the enterprise start to embrace tablets more and more – taking laptops from the road-warriors and replacing them with connected tablets that tap into enterprise content via the cloud. From a tablet the business traveler will have access their enterprise data stores, e-mail as well as plethora of mobile services from managing you travel itinerary to checking your favorite sports team whether they are in New York or Sydney. It should be fun!

~ Jim Hetzel

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