Since the inception of Apple’s original iPad, the tablet segment has remained in large part a consumption driven consumer industry. That is, tablets have always been something people want, not something that people need. Intel is looking to change that, however, by formally introducing it’s much anticipated Atom processor, one the chip manufacturing giant is hoping will help tablets further infiltrate the enterprise sector.
As part of the unveiling, Intel showed off eight new tablets from the likes of Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, and Samsung, all sporting the new Atom Z2760 and all geared for enterprise; a clear push to demarcate a tablet market that to this point has had a largely unified focus. In fact, it’s clear that these Intel driven tablets are more geared to compete with PCs rather than consumer-oriented media tablets like the iPad, with manufacturers hoping enhanced functionality, productivity, and security will help grow this new segment.
But will enterprise tablets face the same fate as enterprise smartphones? One needs only to look at Research in Motion’s fading Blackberry brand to see that eventually corporate users are going to get tired of carrying around multiple devices—particularly larger tablets—leading me to believe that while we are witnessing the truth birth of the enterprise tablet segment, we likely won’t have to wait long before it too succumbs to the inexorable BYOD movement.
I’ll say at the outset that I have no doubts Intel’s first concerted foray into the tablet sector will be a success, as the company will undoubtedly leverage its domination in the traditional PC market to help grow its new tablet chips. Having established a reputation as a powerful and dependable chip maker, companies will indeed turn to Intel-equipped enterprise-oriented tablets in an effort to provide workers with functional mobile computing options.
But while the growth of Intel’s tablet chip technology will likely be an initial smash hit, I have serious doubts whether the company can maintain a profitable focus on enterprise, given what I’ve already seen in the mobile smartphone segment. It was only a short five years ago that RIM was on top of the world with its enterprise inspired Blackberry brand, with much of mobile market choosing functionality and security over inspiration and innovation. The problem for Intel, however, is that those days are long passed.
It won’t be long until enterprise tablet users get frustrated at the paltry number of mobile apps available (the tablets Intel demonstrated ran Microsoft’s Windows 8, which has limited app offerings compared to Apple or Android), or angry at the fact that their work tablet doesn’t sync with their personal tablet, or simply tired of having to carry both home at the end of the day, and as we’ve seen, when workers don’t want to use it, they’ll find ways not to use it.
Simply put, Intel’s enterprise focus is short-sighted, as it won’t be long until employees will turn back to their favourite consumer tablets, trying their best to connect those unsecured devices to secure corporate networks, and once again sparking yet another problematic and frustrating BYOD revolution.