The Next Big(ger) Thing


What’s bigger than a smartphone and smaller than a PC?

You guessed it, it’s an iPad. Well, technically the generic term is tablet and we should get used to saying that because Apple, while certainly a game changer in the category, is not alone out there. More variations on these mid-size (think Etch-a-Sketch, but thinner) mobile devices are coming to market and allegiances will be sworn and battle lines drawn. But the upshot is we’ll be seeing a lot more of these tablets out there than most of us would have imagined two years ago when word of the funny looking, oddly sized iPad got out.

Now the word is out that Blackberry will begin selling its Blackberry PlayBook at Office Depot April 19. The small-business market is embracing the tablet format because they are easily portable and relatively inexpensive—and much bigger than the smartphones whose keyboards and touchscreens are becoming more and more challenging to work with, if only because we’re doing more and more with them.

Research firm AMI-Partners recently predicted tablet use among small businesses will rise by 30 to 35 percent by 2015; with more than 50 percent of businesses implementing server support to allow business apps to process transactions via tablet computers. 

Additionally, The Gartner Group finds tablet sales among both consumers and businesses have helped boost its overall IT spending predictions for computer hardware by 2 percent for 2011. Worldwide spending on tablet computers is projected to reach $29.4 billion in 2011, up from $9.6 billion in 2010. Global spending on tablets is forecast to increase at an annual average rate of 52 percent through 2015, Gartner concluded in research released this week.


And just as the iPhone was initially dismissed by businesses as a fun but softer version of the no-nonsense Blackberry, the PlayBook is taking on a business tone in its marketing. “Small businesses will find it simple to adopt the PlayBook into their business because of its limitless uses and flexibility,” Office Depot said in a press release. “The PlayBook tablet is the first and only professional-grade tablet, which will establish itself as a new standard in the business category.”


As someone who’s been toying with the notion of picking up an iPad, I just might wait till April 19 to make that decision. It can't hurt to check it out.





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