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Businesses Handhelds Apple

Why Tablets Haven't Taken Off In Business 449

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.'"
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Why Tablets Haven't Taken Off In Business

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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • My personal view: (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Servaas ( 1050156 ) <> on Saturday November 20, 2010 @07:48PM (#34294258)
    Doesn't matter how pretty and comfortable you make the prison, it's still a prison. And if you need to run anything that isn't valid depending on Apple, you're out of luck.
  • Re:Steal the market? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:00PM (#34294318)


    "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 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.

  • Re:bass ackwards? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Mysteray ( 713473 ) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:09PM (#34294384) Homepage

    Restriction is freedom. Apple. 1984.

  • 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 bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:28PM (#34294500)

    I was given to understand that the reason the Ipad hasn't succeeded in a business environment is because the Windows based Tablet already dominates that market. I know the local hospital purchased a ton of tablets recently when they underwent a huge remodeling.

    Except that's not what the article or the summary say. It is about how the iPad is supplanting those traditional tablets.

    It isn't the first time the article has been full of shit. I work in 2 government departments, they bought a stack of ipad's with the assumption that the intitial trial would lead to full scale rollout and do as the article suggested. It took all of about 3 weeks before most of the 30 trial ipads been returned to IT (think the number stands at 22 returned) and they went back to laptops/tablets. The Ipad is nice but it just isn't a good work tool, it is something for entertainment.

  • Re:does not compute (Score:1, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) * on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:37PM (#34294562)

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

    Aw, come on, Apple fanboys, it's a perfectly legitimate comment: I had the exact same reaction as CarpetShark. Moderate with honesty, not with your adrenal glands.

    You can't tell me you're not aware of the controversy regarding Apple's management of the iPhone Market (or maybe you are, perhaps in your minds there can be no controversy) as one example. You may not like it, and it's obvious that you consider trading freedom for technical polish to be a worthy one, but it's the truth nevertheless.

    And yes, the truth can hurt.

  • 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.

  • Re:bass ackwards? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by narcc ( 412956 ) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @08:54PM (#34294658) Journal

    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:It was cost. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:20PM (#34294808)

    And they were not cheap enough for home consumption....word spreads about devices even up the chain towards enterprise.

    Largest complaint about the ipad and most recent pad/tablets ?
    No real pen/stylus input available for note taking - I run a site that collects these sorts of complaints and this is one of the top 3 complaints.

      An MS partner could swoop in and corner the market . MS has the ONLY solution that is available for context aware speach and context aware hand-writing to text.
    They have the only solution that is compatible with asian characters and language.

    The main problem for cheap tablets like this is the perception that capacitive is king ..... it is really only suited for small touch devices like phones and PMP/ipad like devices.

  • Re:does not compute (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Man On Pink Corner ( 1089867 ) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @09:25PM (#34294844)

    Anyway, do you have a job that requires you to walk around while also having access to a lot of information at the same time?

    I would probably have paid twice what my iPad cost if you had shown me what it could do as a VNC client. Even if it couldn't surf the web or play pinball or read e-books, it's still worthwhile as a VNC controller. Much easier to use at a crowded workbench than a laptop.

  • Re:does not compute (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @10:08PM (#34295096)

    How well does the typing work with one hand? (Get your mind out of the gutter, I'm being serious here.)

    If you are trying to use it while walking around carrying it with one hand, is there enough area that isn't touch sensitive to hold it (problem I have with my droid sometimes)? Is the typing awkward with one hand in that set up? Does it have a swype keyboard available? I suppose I could just google that last one, but I'm extremely lazy, plus even if it doesn't maybe someone will mention something even better that I don't even know about.

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 20, 2010 @10:46PM (#34295268)
    My fortune 500 company has suddenly discovered that its employee's will provide their own hardware if we can get access to our Notes mail and the shared drive. They provide a software solution for the log-on security and charge your department a nominal monthly cost. They get happier and (more) productive employee's with no hardware costs. They are allowing iPads, iphones and blackberries so far, probably expand the list later. They even have a slide show for managers explaining the point that they get many people working with these devices with very little cost (which is covered by the dept charge)

    When I go to meetings with many in attendance (we have lots of meetings) everyone brings their laptop so they can do one of two things; check / respond to their email while someone else is presenting information or, presenting information (usually ppt slides). I know this is a sad commentary about the meetings. So now the iPad / iPhone can do these things and we would not run out of battery power. So instead of hauling around my laptop backpack (needed so I can carry the charger and laptop around all day) I could carry the iPad. It is good enough to read email and quickly reply - the business task I might need to do. I can show my presentation. Then I go back to my office and create new content on the desktop/laptop on my desk.

    Given the historical stodginess of the IT philosophy of the past this is a dramatic change. I hear it has been driven from the top down, VPs requiring their underlings to have iPads (they were typically using nothing - not even laptops). Well if the VP needs something it is amazing what might be allowed for the rest of us.
  • by bloodhawk ( 813939 ) on Saturday November 20, 2010 @11:24PM (#34295394)
    of course they had a plan of how to use them. Just the majority found them unwieldy and awkward for most of the work items they used them for, an example would be the citrix client and the horrible onscreen keyboard, it simply drove people batshit trying to get stuff done. Basically managers their thought they would be a good improvement to productivity for many of the remote based users that aren't terribly good with computers to begin with, turns out they were wrong, that's why they only bought 30 so they can test before doing a major rollout.
  • Re:does not compute (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Sunday November 21, 2010 @01:30AM (#34295870) Homepage Journal

    I hear this sort of response occasionally. I'm forced to ask if you've used a beginner-friendly distro of linux in the last few years? There are distros where you can't even get to a command line. Nothing but pretty buttons and touch interfaces, widgets you can drag around, docks, etc.

  • Re:does not compute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gmhowell ( 26755 ) <> on Sunday November 21, 2010 @02:47AM (#34296160) Homepage Journal

    It's a tradeoff. Classic PDAs go too far towards the simple, laptops don't go far enough.

  • by The Hatchet ( 1766306 ) on Sunday November 21, 2010 @07:03AM (#34297070)

    The apple is really just a gloriphied iPhone that doesn't call people and is slightly larger though, it doesn't do anything that would make it useful in the proprietary tablet market (anything in any industry I hinted at above), as long as apple has their penis connected to the device, and prohibits 3rd party software from being installed without going through the appstore and such bullshit makes it so useless.

    Sure there are games and a few useful applications, but the essence of a useful tablet is not the desktop tools, but the ability to have a quick interface for doing things on the go related to stuff in those areas where you don't want to sit down to use a laptop or computer. Like in car garages, warehouses, hospitals, they provide infinite usability with no standard word processing or anything. But not with an apple hookup. The stupid iPad doesn't even have USB drives!

    My point is the iPad is trying to be a laptop and a PDA and not a tablet. The old tablets were expensive because the parts were a lot and I really don't see what the point in them at all is. But considering what the iPad is, it is overpriced. It has a proprietary OS that only lets you use things from their app store, and no app or series of apps is going to be worth 500 bucks.

    Really, all they need is as much power as an old PDA (like my Palm T/X) with a bigger screen, and some easy to use APIs, for cheap. My Palm TX cost 300 dollars, is over 6 years old, and I wrote dozens of programs for it to do all kinds of useful things, including a graphing calculator and much more. We should be able to put the same power into something with a screen twice as big for the same price by now at least.

  • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Sunday November 21, 2010 @12:32PM (#34298558)

    Joe, the majority of users do not need or want an integrated keyboard adding additional bulk. Those who want a keyboard can get a case which let's you use the Apple Bluetooth keyboard but then it is no longer a tablet form factor and you might as well use a laptop instead.

    I sometimes put the Apple wireless keyboard in my messenger bag along with the iPad in an apple iPad case so that I can prop the ipad up and type more text with the keyboard for longer emails but the onscreen keyboard is fine most of the time.

    There are blutooth scanners and these scanners are far more accurate and reliable than a camera. With a blutooth scanner, no changes in the software are required. The scanner will work with any software, even web UIs providing an alternative to keyboard input. You also can then continue to hold your tablet like a clipboard cradled in one arm while scanning items with the other hand. You can then hit a "submit button with your finger if needed between items.

  • by grapeape ( 137008 ) <mpope7 @ k c . r r . c om> 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.

  • Re:does not compute (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mellon ( 7048 ) on Sunday November 21, 2010 @03:50PM (#34299860) Homepage

    Ease of Use and Cost of Use are not the same thing. There are two sides to the price/performance tradeoff. Apple wins over Ubuntu here because the prices on the App Store are generally not unreasonable, and what you get for your money is much nicer than what you get for free from Ubuntu.

    Using software with bad UIs costs time, and time is money. Would you rather pay $10 and save 100 hours of wasted time over the course of a year, or save the $10? If your time is free, you'll save the $10. If it's worth something, you'll spend the money.

    For free software to succeed on the desktop, it has to be as good as or better than the thing it's replacing, even though the thing it's replacing costs money, because the thing it's replacing doesn't cost *enough* money to make money the overriding concern.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye