News Analysis: Hardware makers are expected to introduce multiple tablet models at the Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 6-9. These new devices are likely to cause support headaches in a few months for corporate IT managers.
As the opening of the Consumer Electronics Show approaches
on Jan. 6 in Las Vegas, word is
leaking out that dozens of new tablets will be shown at the trade show. Some of
them are simply new versions of existing tablets; some are new versions of
existing platforms (there will be a lot of new Android tablets); and some are
With all these new devices comes another level of
complexity for the corporate IT departments that will be expected to integrate
them into the enterprise-computing environment.
Most of the new tablets are Android devices intended to
compete with the Samsung Galaxy Tab devices already on the market. These
devices will come from existing tablet vendors, including Verizon Wireless,
which has just reduced the price of its existing Galaxy Tab, perhaps to make
room in the tablet lineup for something new. There are also vendors new to
Android, such as Vizio, which is said to be launching a new smartphone and a
new Android tablet at CES. There will also be producers of Android tablets from
little-known manufacturers, some of which will offer very low-cost tablets with
Meanwhile, there will be other tablets. Hewlett-Packard
is expected to be showing, and perhaps announcing, the availability of, its
long-awaited WebOS-based tablet device. The company has already had a few
showings of prototypes, but at CES, many observers expect to see something
along the lines of what will actually ship in the near future. Lenovo,
meanwhile, will be announcing a tablet, but, so far, there's no word on whether
this will run Android, Windows or something else.
Of course, everybody knows that Apple will be releasing
the iPad 2 this spring although it likely won't be at CES.
So the problem for IT is going to be how to integrate
these tablets, or perhaps more specifically, whether to integrate all of them.
While nearly everything being released is Android-based, all versions of
Android are not equal. There will likely be some corners cut that could affect
the usefulness of these tablets in the enterprise.
For example, there are already a couple of low-cost
Android tablets available at discount stores that suffer from very poor
implementations of the Android operating system. These perform poorly (if at
all). Their ability to handle enterprise-class security is unknown. Considering
that these devices run outdated versions of Android and usually don't have
access to the Android Market, they're unlikely to be good choices for serious
There's a similar situation for consumer-electronics
makers who are suddenly jumping in the Android-tablet market. Vizio, for
example, is known for making low-cost television sets. How well will this
translate into making an Android tablet? While they can no doubt make a touch
screen, does the company have the experience to create a secure enterprise-capable
device with the features required for it to be useful in your business?
Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.
He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.