Why the iPad’s 3-year enterprise tablet dominance is on the bubble

Sections: Features, iPad, iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Opinions and Editorials, Originals, Windows

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Moor Insights and Strategy analyst and former AMD executive Patrick Moorhead has published a new white paper contending that the iPad will have difficulty defending its early enterprise tablet dominance now that it is being challenged by more versatile, connectable Windows 8 tablets.

Moorhead notes that heretofore the enterprise has made sacrifices and compromises in order to access the iPad’s benefits, because since iPad’s inception, no satisfactory alternative had been available. However, technologies have now become available that Moorhead predicts will disrupt the iPad’s enterprise tablet dominance.

enterprise tablet

Particular points cited in support of Moorhead’s thesis include the fact that some Windows tablets have user-replaceable batteries, connect to much broader array of peripherals (such as laser printers, receipt printers, scanners, card swipers, fingerprint authentication, and smart cards), and can support extended-life batteries, giving them longer effective battery runtime than the iPad’s +/- 10 hours—possibly a deal-breaker for the iPad if it is to be used in a customer service environment where running out of battery juice and plugging the device in is unacceptable, and could mean missing the sale or leaving a patient. The burgeoning Windows 8 tablet devices are both more connectable and more expandable than the iPad with more I/O ports, connectors and memory-card slots.

Not to mention that the Windows 8 machines all natively support that OS’s many management tools and security services for the enterprise, an attribute that will appeal to IT managers already used to working within Windows-centric office environments. Moorhead notes that Windows 8 also maintains compatibility with Windows 7 software, services and hardware peripherals, and adds support for USB 3, Secure Boot with UEFI, built-in virus and malware protection, and new refresh functionality, as well as facilitating use in conventional desktop mode with traditional apps and both keyboard and mouse input.

enterprise tablet

Surprisingly, Moorhead doesn’t address in any detail the myriad obstacles and roadblocks Apple’s mobile iOS throws up to confound productivity-oriented users:

  • the clumsy, often hair-tearingly frustrating text cut/copy/paste
  • lack of real multitasking, screen refresh lag on switching applications
  • no ability to display multiple apps or multiple open windows in the same app on the same screen so you can’t drag and drop stuff from one window to another
  • no document level file system access
  • no multi-user support
  • no MS Office support and no really adequate substitute
  • limited graphics handling capability for such things as saving images in different file formats
  • no means of taking partial page screenshots
  • cumbersome review and retrieval from large image archives
  • only minimal efficiency-enhancing automation capabilities of the sort provided by AppleScript and Automator in OS X
  • no standard USB port for low hassle connectivity
  • no expansion slots

I could go on. Perhaps he considers all that implicit in his comments about Windows 8 tablets supporting full desktop OS versatility as well as legacy Windows desktop productivity software and.

Then there’s the repairability factor. The iPad was primarily designed for consumers, and incorporates design trade-offs that negatively impact repairability, as has been well-documented by iFixIt’s iPad teardown reports. The iPad’s display is essentially unserviceable, which means that when an enterprise iPad display cracks, the machine either gets thrown away or, alternatively, is repaired by a small, independent fixit shop. This also applies to the iPad’s circuit board and battery. Moorhead notes that the iPad’s non-replaceable battery presents a particular challenge in that the device use will outweigh the battery longevity, noting that IT sensibly doesn’t like to throw away hardware, especially premium-priced hardware like iPads.

He observes that Microsoft and Intel’s having introduced Windows 8 and Clover Trail processor technologies has enabled OEMs to develop and deliver a new breed of tablets that take the best of the iPad’s consumer-friendly elements and add enterprise features IT wants in their next generation tablets, and that enterprise tablets now exist that provide the best of both worlds for both end user and IT, putting Apple in the precarious position of needing to add more robust enterprise features in order to make the iPad as legitimately professional grade tool. The most important element is a thorough overhaul of the iOS (which, of course, started out as a mobile phone operating system) to incorporate more OS X-like features and functionality. Until (and if) that point arrives (and the dynamic up to now has been the opposite orientation, making OS X more like the iOS), Moor Insights & Strategy recommends that enterprises immediately re-evaluate any iPad pilot programs and deployments, and consider shifting to the latest Windows 8 enterprise tablet offerings like the Dell Latitude 10, HP ElitePad 900, and Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet platforms that incorporate the additional attributes and options noted above.

While the iPad does have the not inconsiderable advantages of a three-year headstart and widespread deployment despite its manifold shortcomings as a production use platform, the broad strokes of Moorhead’s argument are hard to dispute.

For the full report (PDF), read Moor Insights & Strategy.

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  • Rocwurst

    And yet, so far this quarter (Q1 2013) Egnyte reports that iOS *increased* its share of the mobile business market from 69% to 78% while Android suffered a massive decline from 30% last year to only 22% this quarter. Windows tablets and phones were relegated to the Other category with less than 1% marketshare.

    Good Technology reports that last quarter the iPad again completely dominated the Business tablet market with a massive 93.2% of activations while the iPhone accounted for 73% of all non-BB business smartphone activations against Android’s 27% and Window 8 was missing in action.

    Good Technology also reports that iOS devices in total represented 77% of mobile device activations in the enterprise market in Q4 2012, with the top five slots all occupied by Apple devices.

    Of the 78% share that Egnyte reported iOS has captured so far in 2013, 48% were iPhones and 30% iPads versus 22% for Android (both phones and tablets).

    Other mobile operating systems including Windows 8 tablets and phones combined represented just 1 percent.

    Then there is Samsung ceasing the sale of their Windows 8 tablets in Europe due to poor sales. Looks like all those Windows 8 tablet solutions aren’t making much of a dent does it?

    What you and the rather PC-biased AMD executive Patrick Moore fail to note is that Windows RT and Pro tablets can only achieve iPad-like battery life by attaching enormous battery extenders that destroy the main benefit of the lightweight form factor popularized by the iPad turning these tablets back into the fat, heavy slow Windows tablets of 5-10 years ago which were completely decimated by the launch of the iPad.

    It is the very elimination of the complex, insecure, resource-sapping desktop OS and legacy desktop programs being replaced with the vast wealth of mainstream, specialist, regional and niche iPhone and tablet-optimized apps that have endeared iOS devices to the BYOD device market.

    But it’s not just individuals bringing iPads and iPhones into businesses, it is Enterprises themselves committing themselves wholesale that is driving this engine of growth for Apple. The enormous upcoming purchase of 650,000 iPads, iPhones and iPod touches by the US Department of Defense is a prime example as are the 6,000 iOS device Barclays Bank is handing out to staff or the 10,000 iPhones and iPads that the NZ Police Force are buying.

    No, there is no indication whatsoever that Apple’s utter dominance of the business smartphone, tablet and mini-tablet markets is in any significant danger as Microsoft tries and fails to convince the world that the Windows hegemony has any place in phones or tablets in the business world.

    • Anonymous

      Haha, hang on to your thoughts there buddy. Some research has shown that Enterprises are gearing up to purchase around 200 Million Windows 8 Tablets. Never forget, Enterprises move very slowly so that they can test and figure out how best to implement products. iPad’s were forced on to us by users, but we don’t like them. Windows 8 tablets, from an Enterprise standpoint, would be considered VERY new still. And that Samsung thing you just decided to whip off, about stopping production, that is for the the Windows RT style only because they concluded that no Enterprise customer would purchase RT when the Intel Atom version of Windows 8 Pro costs the same and provides everything Enterprises want. Basically, they concluded Windows RT is dead for a few years until the world catches up.

      I have read numerous articles about iPad’s dominance, and questioning if Windows 8 will play catch up. And then I go and read the comments at the bottom by other IT Managers like myself, and there is a HUGE disconnect between the content of an article thinking iPad’s are “it” for Enterprise, vs. what all the IT guys are saying. We are ALL excited to ditch these stupid iOS devices as they are a pain in the rear, and look forward to a Windows 8 tablet for all the reasons this article mentions. Shoot, I have dumb iPad users that come in and ask “can I project to that ceiling mounted projector?” and I say “No, because it only has on HDMI port which is already being used, and we are not going to purchase AppleTV devices for every projector, but here, use my Lenovo Tablet 2 for this meeting, because my Lenovo Tablet can project to any projector, and it can print to any printer, and you can get to any of your network files from it. And no worries about my personal data on there, because you’ll just sign in to my tablet with your AD credentials and get a fresh desktop.” At that point, they then say “I want a Win 8 tablet, that would be way more functional for me here at work than this iPad” And… scene…. fade lights down… Another user sees the light…

      • Rocwurst

        You evidently have no idea what you are talking about considering the iPad can output HDMI, VGA or composite video with the appropriate adapter, as well as use the fantastic wireless Airplay protocol for mirroring or extended desktop.

        Likewise, the abominable performance of Atom-powered tablets is a joke (can you say NetBooks v2) and the weight, thickness, terrible battey life and high cost of Core i5 Windows 8 tablets takes us right back to the decades worth of Windows tablets running the full Windows OS that have failed year after year to make any dent on the market.

  • Steve

    Gee, do you think the author of the white paper might have been paid by Microsoft to write this ridiculous pice of propaganda rubbish.

    Moorehead, go buy yourself a Microsoft tablet, you MORON!

    • Rocwurst

      Moorehead is an ex-AMD executive which might explain the strong pro-Microsoft bias.