Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Handhelds Apple

Why Tablets Haven't Taken Off In Business 449

Posted by timothy
from the try-this-electric-notepad-bill dept.
An anonymous reader writes "On PC World's blog, Keir Thomas suggests reasons why tablets have never taken off in business, and explains how Apple's iPad was able to waltz in and steal the entire market. It's all about giving users freedom to figure out how useful tablets can be, he says, rather than forcing them into narrow usage scenarios: 'There's a lot to be said for having faith in users to make best use of their computer, without pushing and pulling them in ways you think are best for them.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Tablets Haven't Taken Off In Business

Comments Filter:
  • does not compute (Score:3, Insightful)

    by spiritplumber (1944222) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:35PM (#34294178)
    So that's why the first tablet that doesn't let you do everything a laptop would succeeded?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:47PM (#34294252)

      So that's why the first tablet that doesn't let you do everything a laptop would succeeded?

      More like it succeeded because it was the first tablet that wasn't just a laptop with the keyboard hacked off.

    • by Yvan256 (722131) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:51PM (#34294272) Homepage Journal

      You don't carry a full PC tower around with a display, a keyboard and a mouse. You buy a laptop.

      You don't walk around with a laptop in your arms while trying to use it, you buy a tablet computer.

      There's also the fact that Apple didn't try to force the desktop UI interface into the iPad, they used one that was designed as a touch interface from day one.

      • Re:does not compute (Score:4, Interesting)

        by poetmatt (793785) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:10PM (#34294394) Journal

        you don't walk around with a tablet computer, you walk around with a phone that can do it.

        • by Yvan256 (722131)

          By walking around I meant people working in warehouses, offices, etc, not carry-in-your-pocket uses.

      • by peragrin (659227) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:30PM (#34294520)

        well that, and in 8 yers MSFT developed ONE and only ONE tablet application.

        Every other application required a keyboard to be really useful. MSFT never ported things like office or outlook to a tablet interface. Apple redesigned their mail, web browser, etc applications. MSFT designed one Note and left it at that.

        Where was the outlook for tablet interfaces? how about excel? The problem with tablets before apple, wasn't processor or battery, but the fact that if you weren't using a keyboard or mouse the interface was a royal pain in the ass to use.

    • by CarpetShark (865376) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:58PM (#34294308)

      I was more confused by the attempted assocation between Apple and freedom.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by painandgreed (692585)

        I was more confused by the attempted assocation between Apple and freedom.

        Since I get most of my tech news and discussions here at /. myself, I also have weird times with hearing things like that. Thing is, they are actually pretty free for a company that has a larger market cap than MS. They contribute a lot to open source. They produce a lot of open source programming. One of my friends went to a tech seminar on phone apps. The presenter started out by talking about how Apple opened up the phone app mark

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by symbolset (646467) *

      It doesn't have Windows. Since it doesn't have Windows, it can use a lightweight ARM processor. Since it uses an ARM processor and flash memory, it doesn't need a huge thick battery. Since it uses a lightweight touch-centric OS that's not Windows on ARM it's so naturally intuitive that small children can use it, and adults want to. Because it doesn't need ridiculously expensive engineered hardware tricks to work at all, it can be priced reasonably. Because these technologies came online just prior to l

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by postbigbang (761081)

        And its ability to do lots of sophisticated work, today, isn't very good.

        Worse, there are no anti-malware/virus pieces (yeah, probably unnecessary but probably required anyway).

        There are no fleet management components or APIs.

        There are no policy controls to prevent data theft of give data protection at all (aside from DRM).

        There's no saction from Apple to use the iPad in business. They claim it's a consumer device, and not one for business. Ask them.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          And its ability to do lots of sophisticated work, today, isn't very good.

          I assume that you don't know anything about software development. The ability or lack there of is only limited by the software written for it. Rather than spouting nebulous hyperbole, why not give an example of what it lacks for "business" use.

          Worse, there are no anti-malware/virus pieces (yeah, probably unnecessary but probably required anyway).

          Sorry, but how can it be unnecessary and yet required? Is that from some retarded interpretation of SOX? In the non-jailbroken configuration, there is no need for anti-malware because everything runs in a sandbox.

          There are no fleet management components or APIs.

          Then write one. Do you seriously expect the OS to write

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dynedain (141758)

          There are no fleet management components or APIs.

          Read up on the iPhone Configuration Utility, http://www.apple.com/support/iphone/enterprise/ [apple.com] I think you'll be surprised.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by mlts (1038732) *

          "There are no fleet management components or APIs.

          There are no policy controls to prevent data theft of give data protection at all (aside from DRM).

          There's no saction from Apple to use the iPad in business. They claim it's a consumer device, and not one for business. Ask them."

          I just made a policy for a client using one of Apple's tools to ensure that a PIN is used on iPhones connected to Exchange servers, as well as erase the device after 10 failed attempts. It isn't a significant security policy, but st

    • by mellon (7048) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @10:02PM (#34295058) Homepage

      No, it's not. The article makes some good points, sure. But the real reason the iPad succeeds where other laptops fail is that it's the first tablet that didn't suck. Every tablet before it has had a resistive touchscreen and a swivel-hinge keyboard, with the CPU under the keyboard. The iPad has the CPU with the display, and no keyboard. If you want a keyboard, you buy an external one.

      Every tablet before the iPad had a hard drive. Hard drives are big, and draw a lot of power. That is, they suck.

      Every tablet before the iPad had an Intel CPU. Intel CPUs are big, and draw a lot of power. That is, they suck.

      Every tablet before the iPad ran Windows. Windows is designed for PCs. For tablets, it sucks.

      Every tablet before the iPad weighed in at over three pounds, because of the Intel CPU, the hard drive, the hinge, and the battery required to support all that. You couldn't hold them in your hands unsupported for ten minutes, much less an hour--you'd have to cradle them. They were designed to do too many things, so they sucked at the one thing tablets really need to do--replace a pad of paper or a book.

      Every tablet before the iPad had a battery life of maybe five or six hours, if you were really careful, and two or three, if you weren't. The iPad's battery will last through a full work day of full time use. It doesn't suck.

      That's why it's the first tablet to succeed in the market.

  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:36PM (#34294184) Homepage Journal

    >> why tablets have never taken off in business

    No cupholders.

  • bass ackwards? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:39PM (#34294202)

    "It's all about giving users freedom to figure out how useful tablets can be, he says"

    Umm, aren't people buying these *because* the software ecosystem is more locked down and controlled than a traditional computer is? To a lot of people that is an advantage if it reduces their risk of malware.

    Something seems backwards. There are far less restricted machines out there, but people prefer the iPads instead of those.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dwightk (415372)

      different kind of restriction

    • To a lot of people that is an advantage if it reduces their risk of malware.

      You seriously think that is a consideration for more than say 1% of iPad buyers?

      If that's so high up on the general public's priorities, how come Windows is still the most popular OS, IE is still the most common browser, PDF is such a common document format, etc?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Yvan256 (722131)

        Because everyone uses them. It's not choice, it's doing the same things as almost everybody else.

        And there's nothing wrong with PDF, btw. The problem is Acrobat Reader on Windows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by narcc (412956)

          And there's nothing wrong with PDF, btw. The problem is Acrobat Reader on Windows.

          Adobe Reader is terrible; but I'm not willing to let PDF off the hook that easily.

          Check out the PDF 1.7 spec. It's a total disaster.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hedwards (940851)
          There was nothing wrong with PDF, sort of like how there was nothing wrong with .DOCs either. But then some genius got the idea that it might be fun to embed a programming language in there for whatever reason and the rest is history.

          In the modern era securing PDFs shouldn't take much effort, declaring the region that it's loaded into to be non-executable ought to go a long way towards that. Although since PDFs can be essentially executed, that kind of makes that a challenge.
  • What? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by recoiledsnake (879048)

    However, there exists another key to Apple's success: its products are built around giving people freedom in the user experience. Apple lets you figure out how best to make use of their handhelds. The App Store is a beautiful demonstration of this--it's all about choosing what you want to do with your iPhone or iPad, and not being badgered into using them in a particular way.

    Err no. Apple locks down the user experience and rejects apps that change it or threaten it in any way, like widgets and alternate browsers etc.

    By way of a demonstration of how not to do it, take a look at Windows Phone 7. Everything is built-in, making for a very focused device. You want Facebook? It's built-in. You want Gmail? It's there. It feels like Windows Phone 7 is trying too hard.

    Although it might sound like built-in tools present a lot of usability, what Microsoft is actually doing is limiting the user by pushing them into particular usage scenarios. It's feels too limiting. The user has little freedom to adapt the phone to their way of working without a significant amount of tedious configuration.

    That makes no sense whatsoever. Slow news Saturday?

    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Roogna (9643) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:52PM (#34294284)

      Apple may lock it down for the average user, but not for ENTERPRISE. Who within some minor boundaries (No using the enterprise program to build your own app store to sell to others, and no using it to write software that does it's best to harm the cell phone network) are free to develop and distribute within their business whatever they'd like.

    • by Goaway (82658)

      and rejects apps that change it or threaten it in any way

      Yeah, no, that is complete and utter nonsense. You need to stop listening to the bullshit the Internet feeds you and start paying some attention to the real world.

  • It was cost. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:44PM (#34294228)
    The reason the tablets we've had since the 90's never really caught on was because they didn't do enough beyond what a notebook did to justify the difference in price.
    • by OzPeter (195038)

      The reason the tablets we've had since the 90's never really caught on was because they didn't do enough beyond what a notebook did to justify the difference in price.

      Yet well before the iPad was this company [axiotron.com] which took your Apple laptop and made a tablet out of it. They have been around for a while so there must have already been a market for high priced tablets.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ColdWetDog (752185)

        The reason the tablets we've had since the 90's never really caught on was because they didn't do enough beyond what a notebook did to justify the difference in price.

        Yet well before the iPad was this company [axiotron.com] which took your Apple laptop and made a tablet out of it. They have been around for a while so there must have already been a market for high priced tablets.

        And Axiotron is doing how well? Not very. They're barely creeping along. Interesting you mention them however - their primary customers are arsty fartsy types who utilize the fact that they've married a Wacom tablet to a MacBook. Not many Enterprise users, I'll warrant. They're trying to develop a MacBook Pro based unit and their promo literature hints at expanded uses in business setting, but I don't even think the product is shipping.

    • by t2t10 (1909766)

      No, it wasn't cost. It was weight and battery life. I had a couple of tablet-style computers over the years. They were nice machines and not all that expensive.

      But at over 1" thick and weighing 6 pounds, you simply couldn't comfortably carry them around. They also took too long to turn on and off. You couldn't build a powerful lightweight tablet at the time at any price.

      Now that we have the processors, batteries, and screens that make lightweight, long-lasting tables possible, they are appearing from m

  • Steal the market? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saleenS281 (859657) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:46PM (#34294246) Homepage
    I'm not sure I'd say the iPad has "stolen the market". Nearly every presentation I've been in/been a part of still has a laptop as the primary source of information. An ipad is great to carry around if you're just trying to get email. If you're trying to do any real work, it fails miserably.

    The reason the tablet never took off is because it's just a more expensive, less powerful laptop. The iPad isn't REPLACING the laptop anytime soon. Hell, it isn't even REPLACING the tablet. The people who have adopted the tablet will continue using it. Everyone else will continue using their laptops for 99% of their business oriented tasks, and keep their iPad's around when they don't want to lug around a full laptop, and don't need to get any "real work" done. If I'm going on an overnight trip to attend a meeting where I'm not presenting, you bet your ass I'll probably just grab an iPad for the flight to watch movies and check email. If I have to get any work done, I'm taking a laptop.

    I would be willing to bet the reason most business users have picked up an iPad is the same reason I have: 10 hours of movie playback. I can watch movies for almost my entire trip to Sydney on one charge. You aren't getting anywhere close to that with anything else on the market today.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This:

      "I can watch movies for almost my entire trip to Sydney on one charge."

      Yep. Jokes aside. It really *is* a giant iPod Touch.

      And that's exactly what the people want.

      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        Now if only Apple could bring a bigger iPad with a bigger battery life. Same display resolution but bigger display. Older people hate "small displays". Give them 13" displays minimum. Bonus side: lower DPI means the display shouldn't cost more than the 9.7" and you can put a bigger battery inside it.

        Nintendo proved there is a market for that with their Nintendo DSi XL.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Now if only Apple could bring a bigger iPad with a bigger battery life. Same display resolution but bigger display. Older people hate "small displays". Give them 13" displays minimum.

          Then they could add a keyboard, to make it more useful for when you have to enter lots of text.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mellon (7048)

            Er, they did. You have two options: the keyboard dock, and the bluetooth keyboard. Both work great for entering lots of data. The bluetooth keyboard is even portable, although I am not really in the habit of bringing it along--it turns out not to be necessary most of the time when I'm out and about, but the iPad itself is damned useful, particularly if you're in a strange city.

    • Re:Steal the market? (Score:5, Informative)

      by PDG (100516) <pdg@webcrush.com> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:14PM (#34294412) Homepage

      Are you kidding me? I used my iPad are the office all the time. Granted, I'm not compiling Java on it, but there are plenty of uses over and above email at the office.

      It makes a great portable Web-Ex client, as well as GotoMeeting and other presentation formats. It handles documents well. Using iAnnotate lets me markup and read PDF docs.

      I also found it great for reading specs rather than killing trees with paper or trying to read them off a computer screen. I can take them with me with ease.

      I also have RDP and VNC clients plus a shell terminal (no, not jailbroken) lets me SSH into other boxes and do sys admin work as well as a slew of other network tools available.

      Add on top of that the fact that I can do Voip calls and listen to my music all at the same time.

      • by 605dave (722736) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:24PM (#34294476) Homepage
        It doesn't matter, Apple is evil. And closed. And all that other stuff. Stop pointing out the obvious benefits of Apple's approach. Don't you know it doesn't adhere to our strict open philosophy? It doesn't matter that people seem to like it, it seems to work, and it seems to be secure.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        Are you kidding me? I want to throw mine across the room whenever I try to type text into it. Why the fuck are you using it as a terminal when perfectly usable computers with keyboards are available?

      • by Mr2001 (90979) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:25PM (#34294842) Homepage Journal

        It makes a great portable Web-Ex client, as well as GotoMeeting and other presentation formats. It handles documents well. Using iAnnotate lets me markup and read PDF docs.

        I also found it great for reading specs rather than killing trees with paper or trying to read them off a computer screen. I can take them with me with ease.

        [...] Add on top of that the fact that I can do Voip calls and listen to my music all at the same time.

        At my office, we do all that stuff with laptops that cost about as much as an iPad, but they also run Office and various other productivity apps. Have you discovered any advantage of doing them on an iPad instead, or are you just pointing out that the iPad isn't 100% useless in an office environment?

        I also have RDP and VNC clients plus a shell terminal (no, not jailbroken) lets me SSH into other boxes and do sys admin work as well as a slew of other network tools available.

        My god, why would you torture yourself by trying to do remote desktop and SSH without a keyboard? I mean, yes, those tools exist, but the iPad itself really isn't suited for typing more than a few words at a time.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Lots of the current generation Netbooks can run at 9hours on their batteries.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CODiNE (27417)

      That's funny I just went to a 2 week long training class where the instructors used an iPad to present all their lectures everyday all day long. Using Keynote presentations and videos here and there it was 10x better than the typical Power Point crap I've been subjected to.

      You can do plenty of "real work" on an iPad if you're not married to MS Office.

      Actually I forgot my own iPad delivered lecture that went smoother than previous ones using a laptop, partly because it fit on the podium I was stuck with and

  • I think he's got it partly right: from the outset, the big markets identified for tablet computers were hospital, warehouse inventory, and maintenance person type jobs. Note these are cases where somebody probably runs just a single app and they didn't choose the app themselves it was a condition of their job. In other words, its a crummy data entry device.

    The iPad seems like the first tablet that's positioned as something someone would actually enjoy using, rather than being a Windows XP notebook with a ba

    • by gmhowell (26755)

      That said, to this hacker it seems absurd to think of an iPad representing freedom. It looks to me more like a cross between an etch-a-sketch, finger paints, and a television.

      Except that two of the three things you mention are totally freeform products for creating all sorts of stuff. It gets even weirder when an avowed Apple fan such as myself acknowledges that this isn't the iPad's forte.

      Methinks people shouldn't denigrate the etch-a-sketch and fingerpaints.

  • by HumanEmulator (1062440) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:06PM (#34294366)

    The features that have made the iPad a huge success are very consumer oriented features:

    • affordable everywhere internet
    • the complete lack of anything that requires a 3rd party to support
    • a really polished playful user interface

    Will those benefits apply to business customers? Maybe, but none of those are things that business really cares about. In fact, some people (service providers and IT departments) have a lot to lose by recommending a device with those first two features. It's possible the only effect this will have is on how happy business users are with the equipment they're given.

  • by pankkake (877909) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:08PM (#34294382) Homepage
    ...hipsters don't have jobs.
  • Tablets as they exist currently are more or less useless for business purposes. They target a different market. Must be a slow news day.

  • "There's a lot to be said for having faith in users to make best use of their computer, without pushing and pulling them in ways you think are best for them."

    He said that about an Apple product??? Believe me, in the past the limits imposed on tablet users were mostly because of limitations in the technology; with Apple it's blatantly lack of faith in users to make best use of their computer, by pushing and pulling them in ways they think are best for them.

    And no, I don't often partake in Apple bashing, but

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmhowell (26755)

      That's one way to put it. Or one could say they make it really, incredibly easy to do 90% of the stuff people want to, while making it near impossible to shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the other 10% (by preventing it from happening).

  • ... would be that historically, the "business" community has rarely adopted anything computer-like until it comes out with the IBM logo on it. Back in the 1980s, lots of little companies were marketing desktop computers, but they were considered toys by the business community, until IBM came out with theirs.

    Now, I can hear people saying "What about Microsoft, huh?" This is an example that supports the thesis, since Microsoft's first successes were with the machines labelled as "IBM Personal Computers". F

    • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:42PM (#34294590) Journal

      Given that IBM has pretty much exited the personal computer market I really don't understand what you are trying to say. You do realize they just market re-branded Lenovo stuff in that space right? I also think any executive issuing a PO for such equipment is not so clueless that they can't understand the differences between Microsoft, IBM, and Lenovo and I also doubt very much your thesis they don't care to understand.

      You either have astonishingly poor communication skills or actually do work with a bunch of monkeys and PHBs. I am not suggesting most Officers don't have their PHB moments but if yours are still having that moment in Q4-2010 you might want to look for another job because your firm's days are probably few.

    • by Mysteray (713473)

      Hmm, I think your information is about 15 years out of date.

      Today, surely every businessperson knows Microsoft isn't the software-development division of IBM anymore. They're the software-development division of Dell.

    • by PCM2 (4486)

      Yes, I've asked business people about this, and I've gotten funny looks, because "everyone knows" that Microsoft is part of IBM. If you try going into an explanation of why this isn't technically true, you merely find yourself dismissed as a geek trying to confuse them with Too Much Information. They don't need to know the details of the arrangement; they just know that "computer" and "IBM machine" are and always have been synonyms, and the small ones run Microsoft software, so Microsoft is IBM's small-computer software developer.

      Which business people have you been talking to? Montgomery Burns?

      Actually, scratch that. Montgomery Burns would associate IBM with OS/360 and AS/400. You, on the other hand, appear to have been talking to someone who got trapped in a cave sometime around 1983 and only emerged last year.

      FWIW, IBM hasn't made PCs or laptops since 2005 at least, and even then they were losing money on the PC business hand over fist. Maybe you're thinking of Compaq? (They're part of HP now, BTW.)

  • isnt it rather because technology finally reached a point where a device that is the size of a tablet provides acceptable resolution, processing power, battery life, thinness/lightness, and an acceptable touchscreen interface ? and apple jumped in at the right time ?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gmhowell (26755)

      isnt it rather because technology finally reached a point where a device that is the size of a tablet provides acceptable resolution, processing power, battery life, thinness/lightness, and an acceptable touchscreen interface ? and apple jumped in at the right time ?

      They also jettisoned the inappropriate WIMP interface, a not inconsequential addition to what you've stated. (Yes, I know, save me the effort of point out a dozen products over the years that used a similar interface. Those devices lacked the technical merits that the post I'm replying to mentions. Good hardware with WIMP fails, bad hardware without WIMP fails. The current popularity of tablets requires not only good hardware, but non-WIMP)

  • by jimfrost (58153) * <jimf@frostbytes.com> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @10:30PM (#34295210) Homepage

    ...is that they wre horribly overpriced. I wanted a Windows tablet when they first came out, right up until I found em priced at $2000 and up. What the hell? You could get two nice laptops for that.

    Even today they run about twice what they should. Apple waltzes in with a tablet half the cost of a Windows tablet, and it actually works well with its touch interface ... It is not at all hard to see why people liked it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MemoryDragon (544441)

      I once had a Windows tablet. The problem really was, the form factor itself would have worked, but...
      It was a pain in the arse to use thanks to Windows, it was heavy, it had fans, in other words, it went from a useful want to have it idea straight to ebay... The only thing this thing was good at was crayon physics, not even reading was decent (which I bought it for) due to its 16:9 form factor. I was so glad Apple went to a letterbox/a4 like form factor for the ipad because it makes reading more decent. Thi

  • by grapeape (137008) <(moc.rr.ck) (ta) (7epopm)> on Sunday November 21, 2010 @01:53PM (#34299082) Homepage

    I'm in the middle of converting a law firm from laptop's with docking stations to desktops and ipads. The whole process started when the senior partner with a gadget fetish picked up an ipad at launch. My job was to wrestle with what he wanted to do vs what it was capable of and find ways to make it work. The issue before had been that a lawyer would have to carry their laptop, charger, bag and usually some sort of 3g card or pray for wifi access, this is in addition to a briefcase with all the needed papers (legal is still one area where paperless is impossible) for the case. My job was to find out how to do all of the same stuff they normally do with just the ipad and a keyboard. I warned them that I didn't think it was possible, but managed to prove myself wrong.

    It took 4 apps to get them up and running, iAnnotate for pdf editing, documents to go for normal word and excel stuff, iDictate for DSS compatible dictation and iTeleport for remote access if they really need to connect to their profile back in the office. The rest of the functionality is out of the box. Now they can send, receive, edit and review any documents or media related to the case directly without having to hassle with all the gear, security settings, etc. It may not be for everyone, but for some jobs its been a blessing.

    Incidentally, he tried this about 5 years ago with an HP TX1100, thought the functionality was there (they were slates that ran XP) the lack of a touch or pen oriented interface made it clumsy at best, it had all the bells and whistles, it was upgradeable, had usb, memory card readers, etc...but due to its identity crisis it just wasn't comfortably useable as a tablet or as a notebook.

I am a computer. I am dumber than any human and smarter than any administrator.

Working...