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Ipad 2 and Tablet PCs It is not just about the hardware

The media and the internet has been sent into a frenzy after Apple’s Steve Jobs announced the release of the iPad 2 at a big media event in San Francisco.  A lot of the focus at the event was based around the updated hardware which generally was warmly welcomed.  Any device whether it be an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry, PC or Mac is only a platform for what the user can do with it.  It is the software on the device that brings it to life.

Caroline Milanesi from Gartner was quoted in the Guardian

“Competitors are making the same mistake that mobile vendors made with their response to iPhone: they are making the battle about hardware, and with tablets this is even less the case than it was for smartphones. What you are empowered to do with your tablet makes the difference.”

The growth of the technology in recent times has been based around advances in both hardware and software.   However, it is the software that makes peoples lives easier it is what they use the hardware for. Microsoft grew into one of the world biggest companies off the back of it.  Apple whilst starting life as a hardware maker has evolved in to a multi media company and is now bigger than Microsoft.

The NHS eyepad

The "eyePad"

This growth is due, in the major part, to its software, like iTunes, and the dominance of the Apple Appstore where iPhone and iPad owners can download software onto their devices.  Apple controls its product tightly from manufacture, to its distribution outlets, retailers and support.  They also control the Appstore and have tight regulations governing the types of apps allowed there. In the light of the recent news story that over 50 Apps on the rival Google Marketplace were found to have viruses this control may seem a good idea.  Many developers find the controls restrictive and content providers on the Appstore are not too keen on the new fee structure either.

Despite this recent virus hiccup Google has seen rapid growth in their mobile and tablet software platform as well as a big growth in their App Marketplace in the last year.  Smartphone devices using the Google android software have outsold Apple’s iPhone and are taking a bite out of the Apple iPad dominance in the tablet market. (15 million iPads sold last year so its a big market!)

So what does this mean for businesses?

There are opportunities for businesses to get your messages out to this flexible marketplace. I recently published an article about the future of mobile web which gave some tips for businesses thinking of entering the growth market place of mobile web and Apps.  The tips also translate across to the rise of the tablet pc market place.  The tablet PC format has been tried may times over the years was hailed as a game changer especially now with the rise of the iPad and other tablet PC devices.  In reality its just addressing the needs of the marketplace and how we now consume data and content. The tablet pc with its bigger screen than smartphones mean that your current websites should appear normally on the device without the need to create a mobile version of the site.

This doesn’t mean that people will start to flood onto your website or App but you do have to make sure your website is thought out and designed properly. The first step as a business is you need to understand your own business. Who you are , what you do and who you do it for.

By understanding these aspects you can then start to formulate messages and content you want to put on your website or App that is relevant to your target market.  You then get the user interface on your website or App designed  in order to promote your message and goal effectively whether it be click to buy, click to book or contact us. If the design does not achieve this then it will fail no matter what device it is viewed on.

Conclusion

From the title you may have thought that this article would have been all about the iPad . I like the concept of it and will look into getting one of the various tablet PCs in the future as I tend not to be an early adopter of technology. This is a very important point though. Many of the people purchasing iPads or similar devices have been technology savvy early adopters. This market place have higher expectations for their user experience than less tech savvy users. So you need to get your design right or they will move on very quickly. If you get the design and message right for them then it will translate well into the rest of the market who come along later as seen with the iPhone and smart-phone market.

Date: 03/03/2011

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