Apple is likely to start selling the iPad Mini at the beginning of November, just as Windows 8 tablets from the likes of HP and Dell get ready to storm the enterprise. Will Apple's softly-softly approach to penetrate businesses reap rewards, or will old enterprise rules and alliances win out? What tablet hardware will the smart executive or worker be using in 2013?
Tablets Taking Over the Office
The BYOD phenomenon has seen tablets leeching into offices around the world. While there has been plenty of uptake in a few industries like aviation and medical, some IT departments have been playing a waiting game. So, when BlackBerry launched its enterprise-focused PlayBook, and HP tried with the TouchPad, no one brought in to them.
That comes to an end when Windows 8 tablets launch in earnest in the coming weeks and months. Now, all the boxes that IT departments love to tick in the compatibility and security sections will be marked off, and hardware can be brought in earnest for many categories of worker.
The big questions are, has the office environment moved on, beyond the IT department's ability to dictate to users? That seems unlikely in well-marshalled IT departments, but surely mobile, enterprise and knowledge workers have been using their tablets for years now. How will they react when ordered to use some new device?
Pick Your Partner
Which leads to the second question, what devices will enterprises be buying in bulk now there is a wide choice? HP is ready to give it a second shot with the new ElitePad 900 packing an Intel Atom dual-core processor running at 1.8GHz, 32 or 64GB SSD storage and running Windows 8 Pro.
Dell is offering the new Latitude 10 with unspecified features, but likely to be similar to HP's model. It will come with replaceable batteries, a dock for enterprise users and added security features. These are likely to retail for around $600+, a fair way above the cost of a consumer tablet.
With budgets still tight around the world, will enterprises be prepared to put up with the "cost of doing business" or has the couple of years of slow tablet adoption changed things forever? Many businesses are now used to having a few workarounds in place, running some cloud services over and above their usual infrastructure, or giving users more freedom of choice.
Within the framework of a few well-crafted usage policies, it is likely that many businesses have let the tablet cat out of the bag, and that those who can take advantage of a tablet in their working day are already doing so.
What Device For You?
With this rush of executive tablets, there is the counterpoint of the iPad Mini (rumors think in early November) and a huge range of Android devices. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised if a host of those sales come from businesses looking for a cheap and effective solution, over one that offers dozens of bells-and-whistles in the name of historical Windows enterprise bloat?
Assuming you have the need, which would you prefer to work on? With phablets, mini-tablets, enterprise tablets, tablet/PC combos all eating into the iPad's market share, what would work best for you? Or does this whole tablet thing leave you unmoved as you hammer away at a notebook or desktop?