In my last post I was very clear that we believe the tablet PC will be the PC form factor driving the predicted resurgence of the PC in the enterprise, as outlined in this InformationWeek article. Andrew Froehlich gave eight reasons why he doesn’t think the PC is dead. So I thought I’d share eight reasons of my own for why the tablet PC is not only not dead, it's just as well positioned for growth in the coming year in many enterprise sectors as the traditional PC that Andrew was advocating for:
1. Performance… Xplore’s rugged tablets can run Windows and all the “real work” applications that some believe are only options in the “real office”. Multitasking is a mandatory feature on all our devices, which also deliver great video support, 3D graphics capabilities, etc.
2. Software Compatibility …Our entire mission is to make organizations’ most critical workflows mobile. We work with IT and our partners to extend your workers’ full task completion capabilities from the office and into the vehicle and field via the tablet PC, including those advanced tasks proving a challenge on other mobile devices.
3. OS Options…Of course we certainly advocate for Windows because it does remain the most widely utilized and back-office compatible OS in the enterprise world. However, we are flexible too. Our Android OS rugged tablets are designed specifically to address some vertical industries’ unique application and workflow needs.
4. Virtualization…Absolutely. Virtualization allows IT to better control the environment used by their workers. This is common with some utility and public safety agencies, is more common in retail, and even more common in healthcare (where confidentiality is mandated by HIPPA and where virtualization can lock down the system). All of these industries have virtualization tools running today on our tablets.
5. Overall Value…Ok, Andrew argues here that a properly spec’d PC can last 3+ years while mobile devices are obsolete after two. Consumer portables are quickly obsolete as the core processors and the OS capabilities are quickly improved. But with our enterprise-grade systems at Xplore, the Intel Processors and Windows OS are relevant much longer. Did you know that the average lifespan of an Xplore or Motion rugged tablet is at least 5 years? (We have customers using our tablets for 7 years with plans to continue using them.). So that $3-4k that you could spend on a PC that can never leave home base would be better spent on a PC that can go anywhere and everywhere you need it to AND have all the accessories (GPS, camera, barcode scanner, etc.) built-in. That’s assuming our cost per tablet is that high, which in many cases it’s not. That’s overall value and only decreases TCO.
6. They’re Becoming More Tablet-Like …?? Well Xplore’s rugged tablet PCs are already the real-deal. Why get something that is trying to imitate a tablet when you can have an actual tablet that does everything you’d want your PC to do, in a mobile form factor? We’ve already perfected the hardware designs and worked in the UI and touchscreen capabilities that allow the “real work” to be a reality on an actual tablet PC.
7. Offline Capability… Yes, to this one too. But remember, because these are mobile computing solutions, they’ll not only stay online almost anywhere (because of constant access to wireless connectivity via commercial networks, mobile gateways, Wi-Fi, etc.), they’ll also stay powered up and online even if it’s storming, if they’re dropped, dusty or even in a power outage. This survivability is the added bonus of tablet PCs such as the Xplore/Motion line-up. A PC isn’t useful if it has to be unplugged/offline in certain conditions, if you have to reboot every time you need to refresh its power source (check out our tablet’s hot swappable capes) or if you can only send or receive data from a single location.
8. Upgradeability… Yes, we do offer upgradeable components like barcode scanners, etc. Or upgrade to a newer tablet whenever you need to – while protecting your investment. How? The beauty of our tablet PCs is that when you do upgrade, you don’t have to chunk the accessories, cases, dock, etc. either. We maintain compatibility for generations of tablets.
So while the PC has some very clear advantages for the enterprise, it’s also clear that the RIGHT rugged tablet PCs at least (such as the Xplore and Motion tablets) have those very same attributes that you would expect from a PC in that same demanding work environment but in a more appealing, more advantageous mobile, rugged package.
I suspect that as companies catch on to the rugged tablet’s win-win combo of PC processing power, consolidated communications functions and untethered/un-phased mobile reach that the forthcoming resurgence of the PC in the enterprise will look at lot less like your parents’ 3-piece PC setup and much more like a tablet PC. After all, this is the “mobile” generation.