Tablets: Performance and Size Matter

Publisher�s Outlook � PROPOSED 11-12

Tablets: Performance and Size Matter

By Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC  |  December 10, 2012

This article originally appeared in the Dec. 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.

Microsoft (News - Alert), are you serious? You want to take on Apple with a tablet that needs a patch already? Recently I asked if this tablet endeavor, called Surface, by Microsoft was mission impossible.

Microsoft, here is your mission: Take a device that has become synonymous with the term “post-PC era” and topple it. Go up against a company that is considered cool and somehow transform your image to be as cool. If you decide to accept this mission, you must take your reputation for developing bloated operating systems and software and scale it all down to run in a tablet form factor where a person can use the device for an entire day without recharging.

Furthermore, you have to eliminate the blue screen of death, or BSOD – the tablet has to work. It must be as reliable as a cell phone. It can’t crash. Moreover, it can’t have monthly updates due to security holes that slow the device to a crawl. There is no possibility to run antivirus software constantly – the device has to be protected inherently, but at the same time open in-contrast to Apple (News - Alert).

These goalposts are a no-brainer. Microsoft is very late to the game and has issued a critical and important bulletin. According to the company, a critical vulnerability is one whose exploitation could allow code execution without user interaction. These scenarios include self-propagating malware (e.g. network worms), or unavoidable common use scenarios where code execution occurs without warnings or prompts. This could mean browsing to a webpage or opening e-mail.I asked the company if users should be concerned about Windows RT as a patch is needed so soon and wondered if they could further elaborate on the security and reliability of the platform. They weren't immediately available for comment. It is worth noting Microsoft also had some issues with its Touch Cover ripping – again, the company needs to be doing things better and should have this product perfected by now.

On the flipside, Redmond can be considered a newcomer to the tablet hardware market and perhaps we should cut it a very small amount of slack.

While we’re on the subject of tablets, let’s take a closer look at Apple and its new iPad.

It may seem obvious that Apple needed to offer a smaller iPad now, but when I suggested the idea in November of 2011, I received criticism from many who thought Apple didn’t need to “dilute” its product assortment of iPods and large iPads. Steve Jobs also disagreed with me but as Henry Blodget points out, Steve was wrong.

This was a rare misstep for Jobs, who showed a God-given ability to know what consumers want across various industries – before even they did.

The challenge for Apple, however, remains the same as the one I pointed out when I first tested the Motorola (News - Alert) Droid X. The reason Apple lost the PC war had to do with the open nature of the PC market – where competition led to a huge price/performance advantage for computers based on the Microsoft operating system. An array of PC makers pushed the PC market forward and took share from Apple rather rapidly.

At a certain point, developers of leading-edge applications abandoned releasing their applications for Macs first and started to develop for the PC as their primary platform.

In the mobile world, things are very different but still the same. Mobile devices have varying screen sizes and resolutions, as well as differing performance specifications. In the PC world, monitors and graphics cards could vary widely and be added on a base PC configuration. It is very difficult for consumers to determine which mobile device is fastest but they can differentiate screen sizes quite easily.

So screen size is a very important area of differentiation.

Now that Apple has a smaller tablet at a premium price, it has blunted the expanding ecosystem of seven-inch tablets from the likes of Google (News - Alert) and Amazon.

The next front in this war is the Samsung line of large phones; the Galaxy S3 and the Note II – both devices have expansive real estate. The iPhone 5 in landscape mode is much better than the 4S but it still isn’t big enough. Apple needs an iLane Bryant phone – something wider than its current offering. Let’s call it the iPhone Plus.

This is the only way to blunt the onslaught of wider Android (News - Alert) phones which continue to take share.

Edited by Braden Becker