Books written by Ray Sullivan

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Keep Taking the Tablets

Microsoft are finally joining the tablet gold rush - fashionably late I'd say, but welcome all the same.  Part of me thinks that we don't need another tablet, let alone another tablet operating system, but there is a huge hole in the market that Microsoft should be able to fill - more of that below.

According to sources, or other blogs as insiders like to call them, Microsoft are holding a launch of their new product, the Surface, on the 26th of October, presumably 2012.  Furthermore it appears that Microsoft have put in orders for between 3 and 5 million units.  In terms of media estimates that leaves a bit of elbow room for inspired guesswork, but let's assume it's accurate.  Heck, let's go the whole hog and assume the upper bound is right.  That's a fair amount of new tablets hitting the market sometime soon.

The estimate is also the same as Google have apparently placed for their Nexus 7.  It's unclear whether that includes the units they've shifted since launching in the summer.  If it is I'd like to point out that I've had two of them, the first had to go back because of a faulty speaker.  So it may be less than 5 million that we have to count, maybe 4,999,998, but still a lot.

Amazingly, rumour control has Amazon ordering 3 to 5 million units of the Kindle Fire as well.  Is it me, or are the Far East manufacturers only taking orders in multiples of 3 and 5 million?  Assuming all of this is correct, it appears that between Microsoft, Google and Amazon they've put in orders for between 9 and 15 million tablet computers.

But of course we're forgetting Apple.  They've sent an invitation out to the industry for next Tuesday, 23 October.  Not sure when, my invite hasn't arrived yet.  I just know it will be in ATZ (Appleworld Time Zone) so probably Wednesday 24 October here in the UK.  What the rumour mill has revealed is that even Apple have to keep to the Far Eastern tablet ordering convention, as they are rumoured to have ordered 10 million units, which fits in with the earlier rule, demonstrates who is expecting to be the front-runner in this race and oddly doesn't have any elbow room.

So that's between 19 and 25 million tablet computers on order.  And an estimated 4,500,275 metres of gift wrap.  Shares in Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Apple are likely to riding high right now, so either invest in gift wrap or start selling it off the back of a wagon!

Anyway, back to the Microsoft Surface tablet.  Ordinarily I'd say that between IOS and Android there's plenty of tablet operating systems to go around.  One less would be plain wrong, normally one more would be fragmenting the industry unnecessarily.  Look at it like automobile transmission systems - essentially you have manual shift and automatic.  Both propel the car forward and backward adequately, allow for plenty of design flair with the rest of the car and generally polarise the owners.  Anything other than these two types, such as semi-automatic, tend not to be that successful. And anyway, Microsoft OS launches just don't set the world on fire in the way they used to.

But there's a crying need to drag tablets away from the fun, domestic use beasts they excel at into the business world.  I've watched, in great pain it has to be said, techs and other assorted geeks (I use the term with great affection obviously) as they have jumped through hoops more times than an Olympic gymnast to interface iPads with a business (MS Server) intranet.  It works too, as long as you don't mind allocating a geek to every six or so iPads full time.  And don't mind half of your business  applications not working.  I haven't watched anyone attempt the same trick with an Android device, but expect it's as effective.

So a Microsoft tablet should plug the gap that Apple and Android are struggling to fit.  Obviously Apple would suggest dumping the Microsoft networks virtually everyone outside of publishing and design use, but that isn't going to happen.  I don't think Android has a plan B for business applications.  Hopefully Microsoft have got the OS and the tablet right, because the world of work is waiting for this to happen.  Who knows, Microsoft may need to increase their order numbers.  In multiples of three and five millions, remember?

Now, pass me the tablets. My head hurts.


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