When it comes to tablets, Apple defined the category with its iPad. Visit an electronics store and you’ll find plenty of similar looking competitors, yet with as many as 60 million iPads sold, you might not know any competition existed. With tablets becoming increasingly common at work, can anyone compete with Apple’s iPad as a business tablet?
Tablets for Business
IDG Connect, a technology media firm (and subsidiary of PCWorld's parent company), conducted an iPad for Business survey to find out how IT and business professionals around the world how they use their iPads. Nearly everyone responded that they use it for reading, with over 70 percent globally saying they are buying fewer physical books and newspapers as a result. A majority also say they use it for Web browsing. This isn’t so surprising since tablets make a great content consumption tool.
It's called the Consumer Electronics Show, but at some point in the last decade, the line between electronics for consumers and all manner of digital technology blurred. Today, the acres of exhibits at CES include all sorts of goods and services that are geared more toward offices than living rooms.
At this year's show, whole categories of new products make more sense for business use than for individual leisure. For example, Xerox, Epson, and Ion Audio announced mobile scanners, which are clearly useful tools for traveling business folk.
The 11.5-ounce Epson Workforce DS-30, due in March for $179, is a TWAIN-compliant scanner that plugs into a laptop USB port and produces high-quality scans (up to 600 dpi) that you can send directly to email, FTP sites, or a system folder. Using the included Document Capture Pro software for Windows, the Workforce DS-30 can also scan directly to cloud services. It comes with OCR software for Windows and Macs, so you can create editable text from scanned documents and business cards.
Payment card swipers are popular at CES this year, and they've certainly have been popping up at storefronts over the past year or so. PayAnywhere intends to outpace the popular Square app by offering rich features for business owners and addressing consumers' security concerns.
Like Square and Intuit GoPayment, Pay Anywhere gives away its card-swiping accessory for free with app registration. From there, it charges a 2.69 percent fee per transaction, lower than the fees both for Square (2.75 percent) and Intuit GoPayment (2.7 percent for card swipes and 3.7 percent if you manually key in the card number).
FIPS is a U.S. government standard certified through the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The standard treats a certified device or application as a cryptographic module, and a FIPS certification means the modules meet strict security and interoperability standards. FIPS certification is required for many branches of the government and its contractors, as well as for private industries that collect and transmit Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information.
“Samsung proactively sought FIPS certification to show our current and potential government and business customers that we take their security and interoperability needs seriously," said Cho BumCoo, a Samsung vice president, in a statement.
Ever since the launch of LibreOffice in late 2010, slimming and trimming the unwieldy and aging code base it inherited from OpenOffice.org has been a priority for the Document Foundation.
“One of the unfortunate things that LibreOffice inherited, as part of the several decades worth of unpaid technical debt, is unused code that has been left lying around indefinitely,” wrote Michael Meeks, a Linux desktop architect at SUSE who coordinates LibreOffice development work, in a blog post on Monday.
In general, unused code tends to bog down any piece of software, causing it to perform more slowly than it should.
RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 software update has been a long time in coming; the first we heard about the possibility of support for Android apps was nine months ago. But from my early look, the update was not only worth the wait, but also may be what RIM needs to make its 7-inch PlayBook tablet more competitive and desirable. The free update will come to all PlayBook users in February.
The big news, of course, is the addition of Android app support. Apps have to be tweaked by developers, then approved and added to RIM's App World, but the experience to users is seamless. If RIM gets lots of developers on board with the conversion and keeps apps updated, it could dramatically boost its app selection--long a sore point with the PlayBook.
Android apps looked great on the screen, and behaved the same as native apps in terms of how they looked in the app menu and worked in multitasking. I noticed a little lag opening apps in my demo, but playing games looked great, with smooth graphics even on a 3D app.
While Windows-based PCs are expected to continue dominating the workplace through 2013, Apple products will "storm the corporate hardware market", according to Forrester Research. And the push will largely come from the bottom up rather than top-down, eroding market share from Windows PCs.
Consumers who have realized the benefits of Apple products in their personal lives are piloting the flight towards Apple in the workplace, says "Forrester's Global Market Outlook for 2012 and 2013".
This will be most evident in the small business sector, where one or two people are usually responsible for purchasing computers for a small number of employees. Convince one of those people that Apple is the way to go, and an entire business is converted. As Forrester points out, it's also common for small business owners to charge PC products used at home to a business account for the writeoffs.