Call it heresy if you must but now may be the ideal time to hold off buying iPads for enterprise deployment and, instead, bring in tablets running Google’s Honeycomb, the 3.0 Android OS specifically crafted to power tablets.
Outside of saying anything bad about Apple, the heresy part is that — as Apple recently noted in an analyst call — 80% of the Fortune 100 already has deployed, or at least is piloting, iPad. The second generation iPad is due imminently and, if the persistent Web rumors are right, it will correct some iPad 1.0 deficiencies by building in USB, probably a camera, probably also video for FaceTime calls. None of that is confirmed but the legion of Apple fans online seem convinced those three (and possibly more) upgrades will come with iPad 2.0.
So can 15 million iPad buyers be wrong? (Yes, that jaw dropping number is the total for iPads sold so to date.) Perhaps “wrong” is the wrong word but Honeycomb just may point to a better way of tablet computing, say some.
So, without further ado, here are the Top 10 reasons for waiting for Honeycomb over iPad 2.0:
1. A key Honeycomb plus is security. “I believe it will offer better security than iPad,” said Dan Cornell, CTO of DenimGroup, developers of mobile apps and security consultants. Cornell indicated that his understanding is that Honeycomb will feature remote wipe, device level encryption, and yet other safeguards that will boost confidence among enterprise CIOs. Android, he said, got off to a rocky start regarding security with its first mobile OS but it has substantially upped its game and many CIOs will find the security benefits alone ample reasons to prefer Honeycomb.
2. If you like Flash then Honeycomb is your ticket. “The new Android tablets will let users view a wider range of media than iPad, Flash included,” said Pat Dalberg, an Android expert at Mutual Mobile, an apps developer. There are no rumors suggesting iPad 2.0 will be Flash friendly, but Flash definitely will run on Honeycomb tablets.
3. Carrier choice matters, said Tom Roberts, VP of the Business Markets Group at Sprint. Roberts, of course, definitely has a dog in this fight but his point nonetheless has validity: Enterprise customers often leverage carrier relationships to get the best deal and, right now, the only 3G provider for iPad is AT&T. That might not be where a company wants to do business. Honeycomb devices will offer a range of choices that include all four major carriers.
4. Carrier subsidies also will be available with at least some Honeycomb devices, said Roberts, which will lower the cost to enterprise. The Galaxy Tab, a 7” screen and a device running Froyo, Android 2.2, costs as little as $249 with a new T-Mobile contract. With no contract, the device sells for $599 at Amazon.com. Roberts’ point: Price conscious companies will shop for tablets that offer carrier subsidies and they will find that with Android tablets.
5. There will be plenty of apps doing just about anything you want on Honeycomb, added Dalberg. iPad and Apple’s app store have hundreds of thousands of apps but the gap is narrowing and Android is making all the right moves to woo developers.
6. Finding the right app is easier with Android. That’s because Google has debuted a Web-based apps store that permits high speed sifting through apps. Most experts agree this is a big step beyond Apple’s Apps Store iPad storefront.
7. If you can write Java, you probably can write for Honeycomb, added Dalberg. That’s a big plus for enterprises that want to home brew apps and already have Java developers on staff.
8. Device proliferation. “We will be seeing many OEMs pursuing different opportunities with Honeycomb,” said Roberts. That’s a fact: in the mid-February Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a parade of companies — Motorola, LG, Samsung at the head of the pack — showed off their versions of Honeycomb and each provides specific strengths. Some will offer 3D viewing, others may be built for video conferencing, still others will focus on other primary uses. iPad is still just iPad, one device made one way.
9. Diverse form factors. “Some people want highly portable 7-inch tablets, others will want 10-inch screens on devices they may use to replace netbooks. You’ll find those choices with Honeycomb tablets,” said Roberts. Again: iPad is one size fits all but as dozens of Honeycomb tablets hit the market in 2011, users will discover the exact device that suits their specific needs.
10. Interest in Android will keep growing. Just as Android has slowly moved up in market share for smartphone deployments — aided by multiple devices, from many makers, at many price points and running on just about every carrier — Dalberg believes that, little by little, Honeycomb will chip away at iPad’s admittedly immense lead and, some day, it too may claim leadership. Meantime, however, Dalberg simply said: “I’m excited about Honycomb. I know I will be buying one.”
How about you?
Robert McGarvey – As a busy freelance writer for more than 30 years, Rob McGarvey has written over 1500 articles for many of the nation’s leading publications―from Reader’s Digest to Playboy and from the NY Times to Harvard Business Review. McGarvey covers CEOs, business, high tech, human resources, real estate, and the energy sector. A particular specialty is advertorial sections for many top outlets including the New York Times, Crain’s New York, and Fortune Magazine.