Tablets make a splash at Mobile World Congress
The mobile industry’s largest trade show, Mobile World Congress 2011, descended on Barcelona, Spain, this week, continuing the trend we saw at the Consumer Electronics Show in January — a flood of tablet announcements but few actually hitting the market at this point.
Smartphone vendor HTC announced its 7-inch Android-based Flyer tablet that features a 1.5 GHz processor, HSPA connectivity and other bells and whistles, including e-ink technology, which lets users write notes with a stylus pen that is included with the device. HTC said the tablet will be available globally in the second quarter with no mention of carrier partners or pricing.
In addition, Samsung introduced its next version of the GalaxyTab tablet — the GalaxyTab 10.1, to reflect its 10.1-inch screen dimensions. The new device will run Android 3.0, which is optimized for tablets.
Research In Motion said it would sell two more new versions of its PlayBook tablet, which has yet to hit the market. RIM said it will introduce a PlayBook with LTE connectivity and one with HSPA+ connectivity by the end of the year. A Wi-Fi-only version is expected to be released at the end of March, while an already announced WiMAX version will be sold by Sprint this summer.
Still, it’s unknown just how tablets will penetrate the enterprise, although the adoption of the Apple iPad gives the market a hint. Apple announced during its fiscal 2011 first-quarter earnings call that more than 80% of Fortune 100 companies already are deploying or piloting the iPad. Sales of the iPad reached 7.3 million last quarter, generating $4.6 billion in revenue for Apple. Enterprise mobile software vendor Good Technology, which tracks device activations in the enterprise, said the fourth quarter saw a 64% increase in the iPad’s share of all device activations among the some 2,000 companies with which it has relationships.
Most enterprises are experimenting with tablets, which can be described as a cross between a laptop and a smartphone that features a large touchscreen, long battery life and instant boot time, complete with a plethora of productivity applications that can be downloaded to the device.
Raffi Tchakmakjian, vice president of product management with mobile device management company Trellia, sees tablets replacing laptops in the enterprise in certain segments but says enterprises at this point are buying limited quantities to see where they fit best. So far, tablets are being adopted in industries where activities are well defined, with specific flow processes. These include the insurance, healthcare and financial industries.
In addition, it’s hard to understand the capabilities of many of the tablets announced, because they aren’t available in the market yet, Tchakmakjian said. So expect a high level of experimentation throughout 2011, he said.
For more information on mobile data, attend these sessions at IWCE in Las Vegas, March 7-11, 2011.