As a Product Manager in the Collaboration space I track the mobility market relatively closely and, like collaboration, I don’t think there has ever been a more exciting time in the space. I wanted to share some of my musings on Tablet PCs– I don’t declare that I am an expert by any means, but it is certainly a space that I love to follow at the moment.
At the minute it seems very hard to go more than a couple of days without seeing some news about a new tablet device. Of course, Apple started this latest craze with the iPad, which shipped back in April. There are already rumors of a new 7” iPad headed our way (I was wondering if they would announce it last week actually). I bought my wife, who is pretty much a technophobe, one of them and she loves it. It’s also amazing to see my youngest son, who is 2, pick it up, unlock the screen and start playing his favorite car game – and I think that this is the contributing to the continuing success of these tablets. People who struggle with technology, or don’t have the dexterity to use a mouse or press keys, can pick one up and get going pretty quickly (obviously this is not the ONLY reason they are successful).
There were signs almost immediately that the iPad was eroding the netbook market. This last quarter Asustek (famous for the Eee PC) lowered their netbook sales forecast and cited the iPad as the reason. http://www.digitimes.com/NewsShow/NewsSearch.asp?DocID=PD000000000000000000000000016049&query=APPLE
It should come as no surprise then, that the same company that popularized the netbook market has announced a tablet of their own.
Everyone is getting in on the action. Remember that purchase of Palm by HP for $1.2B? Odd choice in my opinion, with so much of the market getting in on the Android bandwagon, but that purchase has to be all about tablet PCs. I don’t recall seeing any kind of announcement from them as yet, but I am sure one is in the works. Dell released their Streak – I was on the phone with a customer (a hospital) this week and they were considering buying everyone a Streak as their primary device – super portable, VoIP comms without the need for a data plan and a platform (Android) that they can code to. I am hesitant to predict that Streak will be a winner – this is not a space that Dell has been strong in previously, but I think it is interesting that more and more PC makers are getting into this market – I credit that to the fact that these devices are blurring the lines between PC and Mobile.
I heard another customer of ours (also a hospital) buying all of their Doctors an iPad, and yet another equipping all of their porters with iTouches. Finally RIM, and their rumored Blackpad. Despite our great relationship they remain customarily tightlipped on its existence (as they always are regarding new devices) but, with their very strong enterprise presence and focus, I have to believe any potential Blackberry tablet will be a success.
Whilst we are talking mobility and everyone getting in on the action – Intel acquired Infineon (for $1.4B), who make chips for smartphones. Seems like Intel sees the massive growth potential in the mobile market, and the threat that creates for their traditional Wintel business.
Oh, and the biggest loser in all of this? Windows Phone/Slate 7 (or whatever their tablet version is called). Not seeing too many announcements about vendors buying into that platform. Having said that I also need to give Nokia an honorary mention here – these guys owned the mobile market in EMEA (90+%) – they have faltered of late as their high volume, low-end-device market share has been threatened by the vast amount of people shifting to smart phones. Symbian was not suited to this consumer space in my opinion, and Nokia have suffered as a result. They are now looking at Meego, to which Novell is a major contributor, as their platform of choice.
There is a certainly a lot more going on out there (4G and the threat to existing mobile providers anyone?), but it’s definitely fascinating watching it play out. From our side we obviously need to predict where it’s going and design our products accordingly – we did predict it with the iPhone 1, but we were certainly caught short when Nokia dropped Intellisync, but our Mobility Pack is shaping up well for a release very soon (public beta is out there if you have not already downloaded it).
We are working on new WebAccess templates for GroupWise, which I will share more detail on soon. Teaming also has iPhone and Blackberry templates for on-the-go access and, as we move Pulse forwards, we will be sure to include a mobile interface.
Anyway, I think I have rambled on long enough – like I said, an interesting space to watch, and I only really covered the tablet space and even that was at a high level. Mobility and Collaboration are closely linked markets and both of them are incredibly dynamic right now.
What are your thoughts?