Media Tablets: One Year Later

I recently attended the TabTimes Tablet Strategy conference, an event specifically targeting the use of tablets in the enterprise.  End users, hardware and software vendors, and journalists descended on New York to discuss the highs and lows of tablet deployments in healthcare, education, retail, government, manufacturing and other industries.

I wrote on media tablets in my blog almost a year ago.  What a difference a year makes.

Just over two years ago in 2010, the first iPad was launched, creating a new form factor now being called a media tablet.  In 2011, the iPad 2 as well as dozens of other products hit the streets.  Now the third version of iPad (current called the iPad, the new iPad, iPad 3, etc.) is flying off of the shelves.

One of the mind-blowing things is how quickly media tablets have progressed from the consumer market to the corporate ranks.  Just a year ago media tablets were sort of a novelty or a status symbol.

In the meantime, other interesting use cases have emerged:

  • Hardcopy replacement – Of course, who hasn’t heard about the highly-publicized use of iPads to replace flight manuals and other documentation.  First by Jet Management (a charter company), and followed by airlines such as Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and now the Chinese airline EVA.  Similar use cases include architecture diagrams for buildings or convention halls or electrical and electronic schematics.  You can replace pounds of books with ounces of a tablet.
  • Healthcare – The medical community has really embraced the iPad.  From physicians reviewing rich images to pharmaceutical reps selling products, the iPad is quickly becoming the de facto computing device.

One other interesting trend is the evolution of the media tablet from a consumption-centric device to a content creation device.  Example apps include GarageBand for recording/mixing music and iMovie for creating/editing videos.  No doubt the multimedia aspect is one of the iPad’s greatest strengths.  Granted, it probably won’t replace every creation tool in your arsenal, but I’m not sure it has to.  Forrester believes that in the next few years the tablet will be the primary computing device with the PC relegated to those tasks that a tablet can’t do.  A tablet will be ‘good enough’ for most of your needs.

So I’ve mentioned the iPad ad nauseam.  But it’s not the only tablet on the market.  There are definitely needs for more ruggedized products that can withstand harsh environments.  But from a media tablet perspective, the iPad dominates the enterprise.  BlackBerry’s PlayBook has received a lukewarm reception, Android has suffered from fragmentation as well as the lack of tablet-optimized applications, and HP’s webOS-based TouchPad was killed on arrival, just 49 days after its US debut.

The next big milestone in the tablet industry will be the Microsoft story.  Windows 8 will include operating systems for desktops/laptops as well as the tablet form factor.  Yes, Microsoft has lots of experience with the enterprise market and its integration points will play a key role in its success.  However, there is now a level of expectation from a user experience perspective that no level of enterprise-friendly capabilities will overcome.  We are definitely in a user-pull model and not an IT-push one.

One thing is certain: IT organizations can no longer wait around for technologies to become rock-solid, enterprise-ready solutions.  We need to start early, with the consumer trends, or risk becoming the ‘Party of No’, or worse, irrelevant.

And regarding security.  I don’t want to downplay the importance of security, but we cannot use it as an excuse.  If we don’t listen to our customer’s needs (or wants), they will go around us.  As one speaker said, the more you say no, the less safe you are.

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One Comment on “Media Tablets: One Year Later”


  1. Very interesting article! The proliferation of Tablet form factors means enterprise organizations will have the ability to carefully choose the right solution for their needs and not necessarily force-fit an iPad to every need…thanks for the write-up!


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