Do Tablets Have to Be Mobile?

Everyone seems focused on the new tablet form factors popularized by the iPad and the upcoming Android Honeycomb-based systems. Clearly, mobile tablets fill a popular niche for business executives who need to take an application with them wherever they go. For these users, the real or perceived benefits outweigh the cost. But, as Knowledge Center analyst Jack E. Gold discusses here, the actual business case for mobile tablets may be less quantifiable for many other business users.

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There is an entire class of business applications that would clearly benefit from a mobile tablet computer's touch interface and highly interactive and intuitive capabilities. However, in a business setting, workers often need fixed-location, walk-up types of applications that work best on large screens (20+ inches), in real time, over a fast connection (not always the case for wireless).

These applications are often operated not by users who carry the application on a portable device but by users who need to interact for a short period and then walk away (for example, retail kiosks, health care, work orders, airline check-ins and hospitality). In fact, there are many business users who neither have (nor necessarily need) their own personal devices. Having a fixed device that can be easily and centrally managed and updated as necessary by the organization makes a good deal of sense in these scenarios-and saves a lot of time, effort and cost over delivery to individual, portable devices. Plus, fixed tablets are much less apt to be lost, stolen, dropped or damaged.