Thursday, 12 May 2011

New Tablets? Keep Taking the Pills

As you can see from the footnote of this blog entry, I use the iPad. I am one of the growing army of suckers who believed that iPad 2 was better so I bought one of those less than a year after buying the original. The differences are small enough not to matter too much as only the camera and FaceTime make any real difference.

But what I can say is that I was previously an old cynic and believed the iPad and tablets generally were just some kind of fad. When I bought it I was furious as I had to have iTunes on my PC in order to even start it. I described it as an expensive memory stick that night to the Apple Support Engineer I called. The very next day I talked to my colleague in Germany who was ex-Apple and in a short taxi trip to the airport, I had my email set up and had been acclimatised to the simple most useful tool I had used in years.

The iPad is brilliant on the move and I love it for its sheer accessibility, small footprint and the plethora of interesting apps, most of which I have opened once only. But has it replaced my PC on the move? Truthfully, no. For presentations it's good but no good for more than a few people clustered around its small screen. Even the iPad 2 which has HDMI can only link to certain monitors. Pages, the alternative to Word is ok but not brilliant. Keynote for presentations is ok and Numbers, the spreadsheet, is a shadow of Excel in terms of importing and layout.

To my mind, these are comparatively minor issues. Now I carry the iPad everywhere and type straight into the Notes app and then email the minutes of meetings almost immediately rather than write them down and then onto the PC as before.

Photos and music are brilliant, videos excellent and blogging is simple on the move. Linking to WiFi networks is simple and you rarely get involved in the technicalities it's so easy to use.

So you would think that PC vendors coming out with tablets would leverage their skills in order to out-Apple Apple. Not so. Blackberry's new model, the PlayBook, needs to be paired with the Blackberry server for mail when the Apple can set up Microsoft, Google or any other type of mail easily and in seconds. The HP TouchPad will run its WebOS operating system which in inherited from Palm who they bought some time ago. Heaven knows how that will affect their business.

Motorola is launching the Xoom which will be an Android product (Google operating system). For me, Google are close to Apple. I use the HTC Desire Z Smartphone and it's brilliant with tons of good Apps similar to Apple and easy to download and use. The drawback is that the lack of compatibility with other devices.

Asus has one coming too to join Samsung. Both use Windows and here's an issue. Microsoft, who rabidly hate both Apple and Google, have no operating system for tablets. So you have Windows 7 which at least supports touch but it's essentially a PC product. There isn't even enhanced linking to Exchange - it's no worse or better than Apple.

So I sit here browsing mails from all my mail accounts on a single device, the iPad 2, mapping my MS Exchange account, a webmail account and Gmail. I have access to my client's Global Address Book, all my MS Outlook contacts and much more.

Apple are well ahead in the game but the disparate market entries are not going to help Microsoft grab back the ground lost to Apple and Google. Slowly, but surely, Apple and Google are infiltrating Microsoft's stronghold in the corporate market place and are entering via the backdoor.

This reminds me of IBM's miscalculation about decentralised computing. Will the mighty Microsoft fall? Stay tuned?

Stay iTuned.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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