Tablet News is Good News for UC

by Carl Weinschenk

There has been a mini-boom in tablet computer news and rumors during the past few weeks. This is inevitable in light of the great success of the iPad, which is a perfect UC end point. The big picture is refreshingly simple: What is good for tablets is good for UC – and Apple's attention is good.

Companies toying with the idea of getting into – or moving more deeply into – unified communications should be aware of the burgeoning world of tablet computers.

As usual, the industry is chasing after Apple. There was a tablet sector prior to the release of the iPad – here is a good slideshow of what Tech Digest considers the top 20 units – but it was a bit a fuzzy and ill-defined. The coming of Steve Jobs and friends is a strong validation and tends to focus the attention of competitors.

There is no shortage of news on the tablet front. HP confirmed a couple of weeks ago that it will release tablets based on both on Windows and on the WebOS it got with the Palm and acquisition. Last week, Samsung displayed the Galaxy tablet, which will become available next month. Google and HTC are rumored to be readying an Android-powered tablet for launch on Black Friday.

Apple and its iPad will have great long term influence. iSuppli last week said that it will control 70 percent of the market next year and 62 percent in 2012. The consultancy says that the device enjoyed “one of the best starts for a consumer device” ever, with 3.3 million unit sales during the second quarter. So it will be a tough fight for competitors -- but one they clearly are willing to make.

Tablet PCs are natural fits for unified communications. However, Chris Williams, a blogger at OCS Insider, makes a great point about the iPad: It's difficult to see it as an ideal devices for OCS Communicator because it doesn't have a built in Webcam. To fully mine OCS's capabilities – and use the iPad as a fully-fledged UC end point – a webcam would have to be added manually. “And that's at best a clunky solution for an otherwise-slick mobile platform,” Williams pointed out.

Apple, no doubt, will get there, as will others. The interest that Apple is generating in its iPad, and the competitive response from other vendors, is great news for UC. The takeaway is simple: The value proposition of the tablet overlaps with the value proposition of UC. 

This article was originally published on Saturday Aug 28th 2010