Mobile Devices are Not PCs… Yet

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Apple and Microsoft have both been hard at work the past few years beefing up their mobile device operating systems, along with other contenders like Android and Blackberry.  While it’s clear that mobile technology has been and continues to be getting better, these devices and their operating systems aren’t quite the laptop-replacing machines we want them to be.  I would have a hard time telling a small business owner that their days of desktops and servers are over.  What I can say is that mixed environments are coming, and certainly all business should be taking steps to get ready for that moment.

I want to focus on tablets.  Apple started a technology revolution when they released the iPad.  No other technology like it really existed, and no other tool at the time could really accomplish what the iPad set out to accomplish.  It quickly became must-have technology for savvy business owners.  It became the perfect companion at meetings, conferences, business trips, and more.  In fact, if I come across a business owner that doesn’t own some sort of tablet device, it usually doesn’t take me long to convince them to pick one up.  Of course, soon after the release of the iPad, other companies started working on their own tablet platforms.  It did not take long for Android to adopt their mobile operating system to the tablet, and manufacturers quickly partnered with them to pump out iPad wannabe-competition.  Even Blackberry was rather quick to get a tablet device out there.

Suddenly, a company that had a practical monopoly when it came to business operating systems, Microsoft, was not even close to the forefront of mobile technology.  Microsoft was not about to give up.  With the release of their cross-device Windows 8 Operating system, Microsoft is definitely taking a more bold approach to their tablet technology.  I think the reason Microsoft took the bold approach they did with Windows 8 is that they needed hardware vendors to change.  All of a sudden, every device from smart phones to desktop workstations were taking advantage of touch technology, and manufacturers needed to respond accordingly.  Suddenly, the desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile phone were running the same operating system, with the same interface, and the same apps.  The challenge is always to get the hardware and software to match up and synchronize to fully utilize this technology.

One feature that highlights this issue is the new Internet Explorer.  When it was released, there were many mixed reviews, and people where having a hard time navigating the new interface.  The truth is, the app was built as a “touch browser,” and it works really well in that functionality.  However, with putting so much focus on its usability with touch screens, it lost its clear usability as a traditional desktop browser.  In my opinion, Microsoft should-have kept a more traditionally-built browser while they continue to improve their new “touch” browser to be more universally compatible.

The clear advantage Apple has had since the beginning is their all-inclusive manufacturing process.  No other company is truly a hardware and software provider.  Their ability to control both sides of the equation give them the ability to create devices and operating systems that were truly built for each other.   The touch and gesture features in Safari work very smoothly and nicely, without clouding the desktop version’s usability.

At the end of the day, tablets continue to become nearly necessary components in a business’s technology arsenal, and I highly encourage all business owners to take advantage of them.  Whether you prefer the fluidity and usability of the iPad, or you are a die-hard Microsoft fan and love the idea of having the full Office suite on your tablet, there are plenty of options out there.  Of course, our motto here at the Gurus is that we want to help you find the technology that will best fit your business.