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.
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.
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.