While other companies continue to work hard on producing enterprise specific tablet hardware, unified communications company Polycom has decided to take another route, turning your iPad or Android tablet into an enterprise ready device. Earlier this week the company unveiled its new videoconferencing application, RealPresence Mobile, which will allow users to turn their existing consumer tablet devices into business ready communication platforms.
For Polycom’s closest competitors the answer to the enterprise tablet question has so far exclusively been hardware related, with Cisco developing the Cius business tablet, Avaya creating its entire Flare experience, and more recently Motorola Solutions developing the ET1 enterprise ready tablet.
With Polycom bringing many of those same enterprise-ready features to the very tablet many of us are holding in our hands, could we already be witnessing a shift away from enterprise specific devices towards products that unify both the enterprise and consumer markets?
To wit, until recently the smartphone market was clearly demarcated into two categories, consumer and enterprise, with Apple’s iPhone dominating the former and RIM’s Blackberry clearly dominating the latter. But eventually users had an epiphany, they could/should use one device for everything, and since then it has been nothing but headaches for RIM and IT departments across the continent.
Now truthfully, I would think it far too early to see a similar sort of transition in the tablet market, but with Polycom’s RealPresence Mobile bringing videoconferencing to the market’s most popular tablets, user interest is sure to follow.
Looking to expand its presence in the cash-laden mobile market, Polycom has branched out from its traditional niche of providing larger videoconferencing solutions and audio equipment to creating mobile unified communications applications that the company hopes will encourage substantially more videoconferencing.
The app itself–available on both the Android marketplace and Apple’s AppStore– runs on Polycom’s RealPresence platform, the standard for all the company’s videoconferencing technologies, and will allow tablets to communicate with entire videoconferencing rooms and vice versa, making enterprise video communication mobile and easy to use. Of course, Polycom’s strategy is not without risks, as security remains a vital concern on both Apple and Android devices
That said, while Polycom has certainly not reinvented the wheel with its videoconferencing tablet app, it has done two things very well: First, it has bypassed the difficult process of developing its own tablet, something that both Cisco and Avaya have come under fire for this past year. Second, it has allowed users to stay with the tablet form factor they find most comfortable, instead of forcing them to learn how to use an enterprise-specific device, and it is the latter, in my mind, that my forever change the business tablet.