I'm still thinking about the fascinating projection that 70 million tablet computers - 50 million of them iPads - will be sold in the United States this year and next. The source was eMarketer, the respected digital marketing and media researcher, which also expects the global market for tablet sales to reach more than 80 million units in 2012 alone.
Those astounding numbers should make all CIOs lean forward, take notice and think hard about the support issues coming your way. If you doubted the likelihood of this tablet tsunami, all you had to do was spend an hour at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to see this trend becoming reality. Every vendor imaginable was launching a tablet: Research In Motion's PlayBook, Acer's Iconia, Lenovo's IdeaPad and Motorola's Xoom, to name just a few. Together, they turned 2011 into the Year of the Tablet.
Beyond the devices themselves, the key issue for CIOs is to figure out how many platforms you will be able to support. Android's Honeycomb, Windows, Apple's iOS or RIM's BlackBerry OS-are you going to standardize on one or architect for them all? I'll bet your user base-or more likely your CEO who got an iPad for Christmas-is already knocking on your door to ask about this.
One CIO who impressed me with his answer to this question is Ben Fried of Google. "My advice to CIOs now is to look at tablets and think hard about what your strategy is," Fried said in a recent interview. "Some people already feel that they're behind the game on this."
Fried points out that with the variety of Android tablets that are now coming out, the landscape will be diverse and challenging to navigate. "CIOs are going to have to think about software delivery. Are we going to buy software for these tablets?" he asks. "Do we have to think about training our development organizations to learn how to build for these things? Do we have to think about optimizing Web browser experiences to work for this stuff?"
All great questions, right? What will your answers be? These tablets are clearly the next wave of personal computing, hitting the enterprise with the ferocity of gale-force winds. As we wrap up this first quarter in the Year of the Tablet, what are you doing about it? Drop me a line and share your strategy.
Michael Friedenberg is the president and CEO of CIO magazine's parent company, IDG Enterprise. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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