Each day it seems like there are 10 new applications for your iPhone, iPad, Droid-phone, etc. And as you might expect, Windows-based tablets, according to Steve Balmer of Microsoft in a recent CNET article, are due out later this year (2010) with a bigger push early next year.
Then there is the continued growth of e-readers from a variety of sources such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, with some people projecting that they will replace paperback books in the near future.
And while each new platform may be attractive to one or more market segments of consumers — the real opportunity may be the level of adoption of a platform by businesses.
If you are a company like Airbus, Boeing, John Deere, Whirlpool or any other large manufacturing company, you have many thousands of employees and suppliers. You depend on digital devices to communicate product design information and to facilitate the collaboration of your personnel — especially across geographies. Today, the primary device is a personal computer, usually a Windows-based laptop.
But as we all know, laptops have their limitations and may be overkill in a number of situations. For example, if you want to know whether a part is positioned correctly inside an airplane fuselage, you may want to refer to a digital image of the drawing (or 3-D model). Trying to hold you laptop in one hand while you position the part with the other hand is awkward at best, especially if you have a large laptop.
What type of device is best (and most cost-effective) for this type of situation?
A laptop? An iPad? An e-reader? Or perhaps just a Smartphone? Many people would argue that “any of these might work, depending on the situation”.
However, since sharing digital data within a corporate environment requires secure high-speed communications, I believe the bigger question is “How many of these digital platforms will businesses decide to support?”
And given the cost of deploying internal networks with ever-increasing bandwidth and the costs of distributing and maintaining each platform — I believe that devices that can easily connect to existing internal networks and can quickly download content from existing servers through web-based clients are most likely to be adopted by companies.
In other words, I think that the corporate “hand-held device” market could easily be dominated by Microsoft — IF they are able to produce high-quality, high-performing, and easy-to-use products and get them to market in sufficient quantities in a timely manner.
What do you think?