Hiya,

FYI and what do all of you think????

Take care,

Jay

Will the iPad Prevail in the Battle for Business Tablets?
Posted by Andrew Seybold

Will the iPad Prevail in the Battle for Business Tablets? - Intelligent Investing - Ideas from Forbes Investor Team - Forbes

The iPad is the first of the third generation of tablet computers; the first two generations, one in the late 1990s and one in the 2002 timeframe, were failures. The tablets were too bulky, too slow, too expensive, and wireless connectivity had not yet advanced to broadband Wi-Fi and wide-area network services. Now that the iPad is out, and even before it was launched, a number of other companies decided they needed to be in the tablet business as well.

Dell has released its Streak 5-inch tablet, as opposed to the iPad with a 9-inch screen. There are rumors and product announcements from many different companies including HP, RIM (BlackBerry), HTC, Samsung, and Microsoft that they will all be joining in the race for the best tablet and the wallets of both consumers and business customers. Apple is also supposedly coming out with its own 7-inch tablet. Meanwhile, tablet-like devices, including the Amazon Kindle, continue to do well in the marketplace.

As diverse as tablet offerings will be, there will be a variety of operating systems. The iPad uses Apple’s OS, and the Dell Streak is the first of many tablets to use the Android OS (and the first to use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor as opposed to an Intel processor). Microsoft is touting a version of Windows 7 for use by tablet vendors, and the RIM device is supposed to use either the BlackBerry OS or one from a company it recently bought. Meanwhile, HP appears to be on track with both a Windows 7 tablet and a tablet using the Palm OS. Thus we will be seeing many different tablets on the market. Some, like the reported BlackPad from RIM, will have only Wi-Fi and Bluetooth onboard but will be designed to work with a customer’s BlackBerry for wide-area wireless broadband connectivity.

Apple set the bar for consumer tablets but so far has really missed the boat when it comes to providing corporate-type applications and services, leaving a solid opening for the RIM tablet and giving those using Android and Windows 7 the opportunity to build devices that will appeal to the business market as well as consumers. But Apple isn’t done yet. Its first iPhone was NOT a business-friendly phone, but after three generations of iPhones it now has an offering that competes well with the BlackBerry when it comes to corporate email and other personal information management applications (though it still falls short when it comes to other business applications). The reason for this is Apple’s closed iTunes environment that makes it exceedingly difficult for those who develop and distribute applications for the corporate user community to do so for either the iPhone or the iPad.

There is a pent-up demand for tablet devices that will support various business applications as well as the many consumer applications they were designed for, and as book, magazine, and newspaper readers. In my travels with my iPad, I have engaged many people with iPads on airplanes and in hotels and the response to the product is universal: They love it, but they still carry a notebook for the times they need to perform serious corporate work. All of them would much rather leave their notebooks behind and only carry a tablet.

This, of course, leaves an industry segment that RIM has owned up for grabs. If its tablet integrates to the corporate world better than the others, it stands to become the leader in the business tablet marketplace. Add to this that the BlackBerry developer community has been writing applications for serious business users for a very long time while both the Apple and Android developer communities, by and large, are completely focused on consumer applications such as games, access to social networking sites, and video and audio downloading and playback.

Tablets will also rekindle battles that have been hard fought by the vendors of all of the various types of wireless and computing devices. The first is the battle over the operating system. Apple’s claim to fame here is that developers can write one application that runs on iPhone and iPod “touch” products and with minor tweaks, it will run on the iPad as well. In fact, most iPhone applications will run, unchanged, on the iPad but might not take advantage of the iPad’s functionality. Microsoft, if it gets its operating system right, could also capture a portion of the business tablet market and to do battle, once again, with RIM. Android will have to decide if it is a consumer-only operating system or if it will also attract developers who know something about corporate applications and services.

The other battle, which to me is even more interesting, is the battle of the processor, which began with netbooks but is quickly spilling over to tablets. Intel has assumed it owns this market but Qualcomm and a few others have a different idea. As mentioned, the Dell tablet makes use of the Qualcomm Snapdragon, a 1-GHz processor (with its 1.5-GHz Dual core version due out later this year), and I believe Qualcomm will end up a major player in the tablet processor business giving Intel a run for its money.

One final player worth noting is Motorola. Supposedly it is also building a tablet based on the Android OS, since its renewed healthy growth is a direct result of Droid smartphones. Motorola could also embrace Windows 7 and become a competitor in both the consumer and business sides of this market.

All of this will be interesting to watch, and this time around tablets will be successful. Why now? Because we have the screens, processing power, and battery life to make tablets much more capable than was possible only a few short years ago, and because today these tablets will support wireless broadband as well as local and wide-area connectivity. Wireless broadband provides DSL or faster data speeds that are sufficient to produce tablets that are powerful connected devices that will appeal to business executives as well consumers.