This Week in Tablets: Apple's amazing iPad sales figures, and scary BYOD ramifications

by George Jones

April 28 2012

George Jones is the Editor of TabTimes, and has been writing about technology since 1992


Also inside: Samsung's record earnings, Google's sluggishness, and enterprise tablet strategies

As usual, Apple's earnings call on reinforced the iPad manufacturer's dominant position.

The short version of the story is almost 12 million iPads sold in Q1 2012, which is a 151% increase over the same period in 2011.

Investors certainly weren't disappointed by AAPL's performance. The company's stock shot up over the course of the week. In tandem with the enthusiasm Amazon generated for its own earnings, the entire stock market staged a solid end-of-month rally.

A fascinating and fairly amazing factoid came out of all the coverage of the earnings call: It took Apple 24 years to sell as many Macs - 67 million - as the iPad has sold in two years. That's jaw-dropping.

It is clear that we're still in the growth phase of the iPad and the entire platform. (By way of comparison to the more traditional desktop/laptop category, Apple sold 4 million macs in Q1 2012, which represented only a 7% growth year over year.)

Love me, love my tablet: All tablet strategies embrace BYOD

Fast forward a few days to TabTimes' inaugaural Tablet Strategy event in New York City, which focused its energies on tablet deployments in enterprise environments.

I'm admittedly biased, but overall, I found the sessions and content at the event surprisingly candid and informative. In these nascent days, it appears, corporations are more willing to be open.

QuickOffice CEO Alan Masarek set off a chain reaction of responses with a rousing keynote address where he argued that the tablet is the lynchpin for an entire system that includes cloud solutions, smartphones, desktops/laptops, and SAAS.

Masarek went on to argue that Microsoft is in quite a bind with its upcoming release of Windows 8 for ARM and tablet devices, largely because of the enterprise bundle pricing it has utilized to date.

How do you justify charging organizations hundreds of dollars for bundled Office, Sharepoint, and more on mobile platforms when the competition is charging 90% less? The answer is that you can't.

When you consider how few people actually use any of the more robust features in Microsoft's office suite, the pricing scheme begins to feel even more preposterous, and the alternatives - simpler Office-compatible apps - feel even more compelling.

BYOD: Still no truly elegant solution

I found it interesting that, given Apple's success, there is still a fairly vociferous anti-Apple contigency in the IT ranks. During lunch and the breaks, I overheard numerous conversations expressing frustration about Apple's unwillingness to support the enterprise.

I also heard hope and even expectation that Windows 8 tablets would be a game changer for corporate environments when released.

Conversely, it was no surprise at all, given the crowd and the subject matter, that numerous on- and off-stage discussions kept circling back to BYOD and the security, productivity, and legal implications of such policies.

Also not surprising: None of the speakers or assembled audience admitted to disallowing workers to bring their own tablets to work. The productivity boost and IT budget savings are just too high. BYOD is here to stay.

But there are some interesting ramifications. The gist of many sessions was this: If you use a personal tablet or smartphone at work, you need to accept that your privacy is inherently compromised. Any number of events or circumstances can spur your organization to commandeer your device and your data.

On the corporate side, BYOD policies are also raising security and liability concerns. Will users report their personal iPad lost if they know you're going to wipe all their photos as soon as they notify you? And is the company liable for erasing all your invaluable data if they wipe your tablet?

I was lucky enough to lead one of the panel discussions around BYOD, and it produced one of the more interesting talking points of the day. During his talk about the legal risks of enteprise BYOD, Foley & Lardner Senior Counsel Aaron Tantleff made the point that liability cuts both ways when corporations allow their employees to use their iPads or other tablets for work.

Tantleff raised the interesting and salacious example of a business that found out, via its device policies, that one of its executives had six mistresses in cities around the country. What does an organization do with this kind of information? Yes, it's personal, but what if there's valid reason to suspect that the employee's performance is compromised due to their personal life?

(A quick aside: Six mistresses? Really??)

Here's another example: If an organization insists on access to information on its employees' tablets (which ultimately, it must), what happens if they find out an employee is an addict through the inadvertent discovery of self-help books on their tablet?

In theory, nothing, but it's not hard to imagine a discovery like this instigating rumors. Now imagine this employee suing the company for discrimination because s/he believes their career was jeopardized by such a disclosure.

Despite the fact that data-filled smartphones have been around for many years already, the deeper levels of engagement tablets offer make me think that we're just starting to enter a period of time where corporations begin encountering these types of problems more frequently.

I also can't help but think that we're one elegant solution away from figuring out how to bridge the gap between corporate provisioning and personal usage of personally-owned devices.

Part of this solution will certainly be more consistently reliable connectivity; the more data can exist in the cloud and not be stored in local devices, the less compromising BYOD can be.

It's hard to believe Apple can't figure this one out in a more elegant manner than any other company; until then, the MDM companies, consulting firms, and law firms are goinng to make a fortune offering products, guidance, and more.

This week's winner: Samsung

Samsung: Record net profit of $4.4 billion, which is almost double that of its Q1 2011 profit. Helped by a  true winning tablet design in the Galaxy Note. The Galaxy Note 10-inch version will likely kill. Smartphone critics and experts have known this for a while, but it's clear that Samsung is a strong #2 in the space.

I can't help but wonder: If Samsung has indeed elevated itself above everyone but Apple, this means the handset and tablet manufacturer is trouncing Google's Motorola unit, setting up some potential conflict down the road.

This makes the company's investment in open-source mobile OS Tizen make a little more sense as a contingency plan of sorts--or as a way to more meticulously optimize and control a tablet operating system.

This week's loser: Google

Outside of YouTube, I'm beginning to get the feeling that Google is slowing down and losing momentum. Google Drive's release was uninspired; no surprises there. Surprisingly, there's no true enterprise functionality in the first iteration of the search giant's Dropbox competitor.

Google must know how many enterprise customers it has. How could the company so blatantly ignore an opportunity to capitalize on the Dropbox Problem, given the tremendous momentum on this front by just about every other enterprise cloud service on the planet?

Finally, because it owns Motorola Mobility, it--like so many other companies--is now officially getting its head handed to it by Samsung on its own platform.

George Jones is the Editor of TabTimes, and has been writing about technology since 1992

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