We all know about the success of tablets both in the home and enterprise. It is one of those overnight success stories that took around ten years or more. The real breakthrough was the iPad and it is still the market leader and the trend setter; the one that all others try to emulate.
The fact that many tablets failed before the advent of the iPad and that many more have failed since is testimony to the uniqueness of the iPad, to its creators getting it ‘just right’ and to Apple being the premier marketing organization of our time. The fact that the iPad outsells all of its competitors despite having fewer features is due to the understated brilliance of its design and Apple’s overachieving marketing department.
Despite their best efforts, huge budgets and amazing technology, both HP and Samsung have failed to topple the iPad. Now we have Microsoft with its vapourware Surface about to attempt the same task; good luck Microsoft but for now I am placing my bets on Apple to win this contest. Then again, maybe Google’s coming Nexus 7 tablet will be the deal-breaker?
I own an iPad 2 and a Samsung Galaxy Tab and despite the Samsung having more capabilities I would choose the iPad every time and it is the one I carry around with me despite the missing USB port and sandboxed file system. It wins because it is just ‘right’; it is super easy to configure and use and just does what it is supposed to do without irritating bugs, idiosyncrasies or pain. This is due to the maturity and robustness of iOS. The Samsung on the other hand suffers because of the immaturity and instability of the Android operating system; I feel sorry for Samsung because they have done a good job with the hardware only to be let down by the software. Google, are you listening?
However, the iPad has not replaced my smart-phone, desktop computer or laptop and it isn’t likely to until it matures and grows a lot past both the iPad 2 and the stupidly named New iPad (I guess even Apple can’t get it right every time). The reasons are pretty self-evident:
· It can’t run all the applications I need
· Its screen is too small for some jobs
· It is too big to replace my phone and doesn’t work as a phone
· It has limited connectivity
· The sandboxed file system is next to useless when I need to transfer data between applications. In fact, you may as well say it doesn’t have a file system.
· It can’t be networked (connecting via Wi-Fi is not the same as networking; for enterprise use it needs to connect to Active Directory)
So even though the iPad is the ‘best’ it is still light years away from being the single device I could use in my business. This means it is an ‘additional’ device, not a replacement. I still need my smartphone and my desktop and my laptop and this is just too silly for words because all of these devices can receive and send emails, all of these devices can receive and send messages and all of these devices allow me to type and create and read documents, etc., etc. There is an enormous overlap of functionality, a duplication of functionality which is more than silly; it is stupid; why am I receiving the same email on four devices?
You may ask then why do I have four devices? The simple answer is that each one of them is more appropriate in a given situation. For example, at my desk there is nothing better than the desktop, in the airport just before my flight the smart-phone is best, in my hotel room the night before the meeting the laptop is perfect and while having coffee just before a meeting the iPad is the ideal device. However, none of them are appropriate for all the things I do and all the places I go. This is the major dilemma of the modern office worker.
I do not want to work with four devices, I do not want to carry three devices (phone, laptop and iPad) on business trips and I think it is just plain dumb to have to send and receive the same email on four different devices. We need a single solution and everyone in the industry tells me it will be a tablet but I have yet to see a tablet that fits the bill or even comes close.
I want a screen big enough to view and compose important documents or presentations. I want a real keyboard. I want connectivity, I want security. I want to be able to run all the applications I need to run my business. I also want lightness and small size and a phone. I am not Robinson Crusoe; every business person I speak to wants the same capabilities and until tablets can come close to satisfying my needs they will never be the single device business people need.
To all the tablet makers out there, Apple, Samsung, HP, Lenovo, Google, and the like; please, please listen to your customers and produce a new generation device that will simplify our lives and reduce our load. Please give me a single device that does everything.