Image: Miguel Pires da Rosa
Think back to the 1980’s and it was a common site to see a man in a suit holding a briefcase in one hand and shouting into a giant mobile phone handset in the other. The eruption of mobile technology available to business for the first time opened an elusive opportunity for companies to cater the business market with the best technology available.
But is there any such thing as a business device in 2012?
Back in the 80’s and nineties, those companies that could afford the technology and equip their top executives with the tools to do their job more efficiently could capitalise on their markets and move ahead of the competition. As the technology progressed, the technology filtered down to a consumer level. I remember having a car phone installed in the early nineties from the Carphone Warehouse (makes sense now huh?)
With the huge demand for devices ready for business applications, it was no surprise that companies like Intel started catering specifically for this audience. Back in the 80’s if you were looking for server monitoring for your building, computers the size of rooms were needed, whereas today, the tibco hawk system can be run on a mid range iMac!
But when consumer electronics can be used with the help of business apps, is there any need for a device specifically for business at all?
Blackberry messaging, which was a system originally built for business paging became a social tool rather than a business centric one. This has not stopped a rapid decline in its business.
The very public demise of RIM and their Blackberry has seen a change in consumer culture. The technology we all now use is now so widespread that it is often businesses that adopt technology from the consumer in the first place.
So is there any future for the business device?
From the perspective of hardware, probably not. When the market for hardware is now almost becoming second to the distribution channels of content. Companies want to subsidise the small margins that they make on hardware with applications and software that can rack up huge margins.
Devices such as the iPad are developed with such a massive budget, that to try and compete with them would be a risky strategy. Are the needs of a business so different from that of an average consumer that a whole new device
Blackberry attempted to corner the business tablet market, but then went and called their device the ‘playbook’ which goes against their market stance and subsequently the playbook has already been forgotten.
So what devices should I use for business?
The good news is, you have a lot to choose from. Everything on the high street, whether it be phone, tablet, or computer will have business apps specifically tailored for it.
Because the app network is fractured across a lot of devices, software developers have to cater for a huge range of devices. This means that once when businesses were reliant on a certain software system, there is a large amount of support even across devices due to the need for companies to cater to a larger market.
A good example of this is Skype, which has been ported successfully to a wide range of devices from tablets and computers to being integrated within television sets.
So unless you are working in an incredibly specialist environment using custom systems such as a hospital, there is a good chance the tablet you tuck under your arm will be the one that you take home with you at the end of the day. Which for some, isn’t such a great thing after all.