Dell & Microsoft Separately Say Tablets are Fads. I Wonder What Bill Gates (Mr. Tablet PC) Thinks of This?

Apple has sold more than 15 million iPads so far. They have not been able to keep up with the demand for the recently launched iPad 2 which currently has a 3 to 4 week shipping delay from Apple’s online store. Microsoft itself already provides enterprise management support for iOS and Android based devices through Exchange ActiveSync and is working on further enterprise integration (see More Enterprise Mobile Device Management Options from Microsoft). Yet, we see these two separate anti-tablet messages from Dell and Microsoft. Curiously, both are published by Australian based organizations.

Apple iPad will fail in the enterprise: Dell ( Australian edition)

Tablets might be a flash in the pan: Microsoft global chief strategy officer (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Dell has never had a tablet strategy. Despite being a strong Microsoft partner in the desktop, notebook and server markets, it never adopted Microsoft’s Windows Tablet Edition for a tablet product. In a former job when I had a dedicated Dell account executive visting me every month or two, I asked about this hole in their product line-up. He said that Dell did not see a big market in tablets (which was true then) and chose to partner with Motion Computing for vertical markets such as law enforcement and the military. Dell currently has an Android based Dell Streak tablet with a 7-inch display on the market. But, it does not seem to be capturing much attention. I find it interesting that Dell which found its first success by concentrating on consumer desktop sales now believes the enterprise is the key to tablet success.

I found the comments from Microsoft’s highly respected Global Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie very surprising. The Sydney Morning Herald paraphrases him as saying: he did not know whether tablets like the iPad would “remain with us or not”. Microsoft co-founder, Bill Gates, must find this surprising given his efforts starting the 1990s to promote the idea of tablet computing. This culminated with the launch of the Microsoft Windows XP Tablet PC Edition in 2001. Microsoft tried very hard to establish the Tablet PC and, later, the UMPC (Ultra Mobile PC) as new form factors. However, it was not until Apple’s iPad emerged in 2010 that tablet computing became popular.

We’ve seen notebook PCs overtake desktop PCs both in the home and office as the more mobile and more expensive notebooks gained power, storage and battery capacities. It probably isn’t a stretch to imagine the even more mobile, less expensive (sometimes), and long lasting (10 hour battery life for the iPad) replacing many of the activities we now associate with notebook PCs. Personally, I had two short conference trips last year where I took an iPad instead of a notebook or netbook. The iPad’s instant on and off capability is a real win in conference environments. Its long battery life meant I never had to search for an A/C outlet during the entire day. Personally, I think tablets of the iPad and Android types are here to stay.