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Enterprise Tablet Dilemma: iPad mini, Surface or Nexus 7?

Last week’s launches have left mobile workers to decide between the iPad mini, Nexus 7 and the Surface as their tablet of choice. By the same token, IT admins must too decide which platforms to support. Which will it be — one, two or all three?

Enterprise Tablet Dilemma: iPad mini, Surface or Nexus 7?

by Pragati Chaplot Jain | November 06, 2012

The launches of iPad mini and Surface tablets last week have once again added some momentum and heat in the tablet space. Mobile workers have been pampered with choices, now contemplating whether the iPad mini, Nexus 7 or RT Surface tablet is right for them. As the bring your own device (BYOD) trend becomes standard within the workplace, IT admins must decide which tablets they'll support.

Mini iPad, big deal

The iPad mini may be overpriced but it is difficult to resist. It is Apple’s answer to Amazon’s Kindle. It is Apple’s first one-handed tool packed with more features and power than its rival. Yes, dynamite still comes in small packages.

Constructed with the A5 processor and the iPad 2 hardware, the key distinguishing features of the iPad mini are better battery life and a rearview 5MP camera. From an enterprise perspective, the few things that work in its favor are a rich and diverse tablet app ecosystem (rivaling the Google Play Store), its power-boosting, efficient hardware, and support for cellular technology. Sprint has announced plans to offer the fourth generation iPad and iPad mini to its 4G network workers on November 11th without any contract. The iPad mini may be lacking the retina display but the extended battery life is a boon for the mobile warriors.  For IT administrators, as the iPad mini gears up to make its splash at workplaces, supporting it will not be challenging as it has the same hardware as the iPad.

The iPad has already been a hit amongst companies and service technicians where mobility trumps everything else. However, the iPad mini’s 7.9 inch eye straining screen and pricing model may be detrimental to its enthusiastic adoption. Let us wait and watch to see if the iPad mini, like the third generation iPad, resonates well with enterprise workers and IT.

Lucky Nexus 7?

Samsung’s Nexus 7 has been one of the most popular and admired Android tablets of this year. Apart from its low pricing, Nexus 7 provides its enterprise owners an enjoyable, pleasant and convenient reading experience, and allows them to consume and share content and media (reading books, playing games, watching movies, etc.) in a more flexible and usable format. Another alluring factor of the device is that it integrates well with Google Maps and other Google products. This is something of prime importance for enterprise workers who spend much of the time on the road. 

However, the Android application ecosystem for tablets is not as diverse and rich as the one for smartphones (or for Apple’s tablets) which could decelerate its adoption amongst mobile workers. Tablet market is finally picking up, and it’s time mobile app developers dedicate more time and effort to Android app development for tablets.

Reaching the Surface

Last week Microsoft unveiled its much-anticipated Windows 8 operating system and Surface RT tablets. While the MS Surface RT has been garnering lot of rave reviews for its Metro Outlook, Windows 8 tablets are making news for their improved security features and touchscreen capabilities. So, are the Surface tablets are a mere launching pad for Microsoft in the tablet market or they have more to offer?

One attractive feature for enterprises is its support for the Microsoft Office Suite. It is preinstalled with the Office suite but can be used by enterprises only when they buy the Office 365 license. Industry experts have raised questions about its compatibility with the existing range of MS products. Another missing feature from the Surface RT is Outlook.  MS Outlook is one of the most coveted and venerable products from Microsoft. The missing software will be a huge disappointment for many enterprise workers. Another deterrent to Surface adoption is the low number of Windows apps for the Surface tablets.

Microsoft products have played an instrumental role in enterprise productivity. Thus, enterprise workers and businesses are looking forward to their line of BYOD products. Microsoft must dedicate efforts to creating compelling features for its products to create its PC success in the mobile ecosystem.

All three new entrants have something to offer for both the mobile worker and the enterprise. These tablets will take their BYOD ride, too. So don’t be surprised, IT administrators. Charge up your mobile device management (MDM) batteries and let the show begin!

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