My decision to go ahead and buy a tablet of any kind was somewhat motivated by my trip to VMworld 2011 in late August. While in attendance I saw a lot of people there walking around with multiple kinds of tablets. I was not exactly sure what they were doing with them but I thought since these folks were all IT professionals they surely must be doing something productive with them.
For instance one individual seemed to have a pretty cool application that allowed him to take notes with his iPad so instead of carting around a bulky laptop he was using an iPad. Another individual who I met with at the show seemed to be glued to his tablet and was always flipping from one website to another or pulling up some tidbit of information even as we chatted. I am not sure if I was just boring him to death or he had just purchased his tablet and was also in the midst of trying to figure out its value proposition but he sure seemed focused on it.
But there were two factors that ultimately contributed to putting me over the top in terms of purchasing a tablet of any kind. First, there were the comments made by VMware’s CEO Paul Maritz that in tomorrow’s virtual data center administrators were not going to be tethered to a LAN line as they frequently are now but will have the freedom and flexibility to manage their data center from wherever they want whenever they want.
Further, these administrators of tomorrow (those who are 35 years of age and under) have experienced the Internet in a totally different way than I have in my lifetime. Their experience will carry over into how they expect to manage their data centers and they will expect to use a mobile device to do so.
This puts me at a decided disadvantage as an analyst who is trying to provide relevant information for these folks. So my desire to gain this insight into their Internet experience started me heavily leaning toward purchasing a tablet.
The second factor that contributed to my decision to purchase a tablet was that all three of my sons have an iPod of some form. While they use Windows laptops to surf the Internet, play Roblox, and an assortment of other online games that I now forget the names of, when they get together with their friends they predominantly use their Apple devices to text, share music and play games. So being more in tune with the Internet experience of my sons coupled with the fact that the OS on the iPad is perceived to be more secure and less vulnerable to viruses led me to purchase an iPad.
But now here I am 2 – 3 weeks later and I can honestly say I do not think that the iPad or any tablet as far as that goes is yet ready for prime time from a business perspective.
This viewpoint has nothing to do with the iPad’s operating system. The interface is slick. It quickly powers on. Apps fire up almost instantly. You can shut down applications that are running in the background. You can easily enlarge a certain part of the screen to more easily view it. When you flip the iPad around the view on it adjusts from landscape to portrait. In that sense, it is great.
The problem I am having is what do I do with it? The business productivity tools I rely on for the most part on a day-to-day basis are Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) and, the last I heard, Microsoft had no plans to port Office to the iPad which severely cripples me in my work activities.
Installing new applications is no picnic either. It is not that it is hard to find new applications but it is like the wild, wild west when it comes to choosing one. By way of example, yesterday my wife was working with the iPad and trying to do something with it. As she was doing so, she walked into my office and exclaimed, “As soon as I try to do anything practical with my iPad I get lost in a 1 – 2 hour abyss of trying to figure out what software I need to do it.“
That comment resonated with me because it accurately summed up how I felt about the iPad. Cool technology but yet lacking any appropriately cool applications to make it relevant to me.
Even as I type up this blog entry I can assure you I am not doing it on my iPad. Why? Simple. I have a PC with two 20+” landscape monitors with one that is configured to function as both a TV and a PC monitor. So on one monitor I am typing this blog entry and on the other I am watching the Tigers beat the Yankees in Game 5 of the ALDS. Now maybe the iPad was never intended to do that but that is what I want and need it to do and, as of now, it does not deliver that functionality.
The day may be coming when storage administrators do carry in hand either an Android or an iPad tablet as they walk between racks of servers, stroll down the hall or even while getting coffee at Starbucks and use it to manage their infrastructure. But that day has not yet arrived.
Further, it will not arrive until Apple, Google and whatever other tablet providers are out there start to deliver standardized applications that do more than act like cool toys but start to more directly satisfy day-to-day business requirements. It is only then that businesses will ante up and pay to make them a part of the day-to-day life of their employee’s work day experience.