Saturday, July 25, 2009

A New Tablet on the Horizon?

A New Tablet on the Horizon?

Mac Tablet Rumors

There has been grumbling about Apple Macintosh "tablet" form factors for years, although the leaks have been getting more substantial as of late.

One such published rumor included a quote, from an enthusiast, which was highly criticized:
"The iTouch Tablet is about to change society as we know it."

This comment really all depends upon the execution by Apple.

Background to Successful Appliance Launches

What made the iPod, iPod Touch and iPhone successful?

Apple figured out how to change the industries in three markets: portable music players, PDA's, and Cell Phones. As a side note, Apple failed to create the PDA market with the Newton.

If Apple applies the same consideration into the Tablet market, they could do well.

Moving onto the Tablet

Making a successful consumer oriented appliance technology in a tablet which is easily manageable could be the key. Without the need for OS patches & upgrades in conjunction with virus updates, many traditional market outlets could choose the device over a portable PC or laptop:
  • home theater entertainment
  • eBook reading appliances
  • libraries
  • conference centers
  • church pulpits
  • university professors
  • university students
  • audio mixing consoles
  • video special effects generators
  • lighting control panels
Anyone who has used cheaply manufactured devices (made with little attention to software & hardware details) tire of the experience quickly (due to the issues inherent with trash design & manufacturing.) A large number of good ideas go to the technical graveyard when consumers believe they are poorly implemented the first time around. An Apple "iTablet" with the engineering of a Apple MacBook Air might be accepted rapidly.

Anyone who has used industrial devices, which have physical controls, spend a pretty penny for them - moving the technology to touch screen controls could result in a far better user experience and longevity in the device usage without substantial maintenance in cleaning sliders/pots.

If Apple does a tablet right, they could really revolutionize many industries.

Network Management

What does all of this have to do with Network Management?
  • Network Management uses obtuse interfaces from a variety of vendors.
  • The features from multiple vendors use significantly different interfaces, some of which provide poor user interface capabilities, and all are generally very expensive to implement on a per-user basis.
  • People are becoming familiar with many "Web 2.0" features in every day life and these are not being backfilled into the Network Management arena by vendors.
  • People are demanding more mobility and many Network Management vendors are not delivering these features by investing in a time of low revenue in an global economic recession.
How could these issues be resolved in a tablet?
  • Remote Control capabilities (such as RDP, VNC, Telnet) are all available & widely distributed today in the iPod Touch and iPhone via Apple iTunes today, at a very reasonable cost (per user.)
  • Remote debugging capabilities (such as Ping, Traceroute) are available & widely distributed today in the iPhone Touch and iPhone via Apple iTunes today, at a very reasonable cost (per user.)
  • Corporations are already leveraging portables such as iPod Touch and iPhone via Microsoft Exchange support for corporate applications.
  • VPN capabilities are built into remote devices like the iPhone today for remote capabilities.
  • Using a standard interface, imposed by the iPod Touch or iPhone API's for multiple existing Web 2.0 applications, help users reduce barriers to entry through simplification, and would reduce training requirements for existing Network Management applications due to obtuse user interfaces by the vendors.
  • Using a standard interface, imposed by the iPod Touch or iPhone API's for multiple existing Web 2.0 applications, would allow greater cross-vendor integration, since the platform would become the integration location.
  • User interaction with Network Management maps and displays often use mouse clicks and drags, while API's in the iPod Touch and iPhone offer much more intuitive interactions such as dragging your finger or pinch.
  • API integration of Google Maps into iPod Touch or iPhone with Location would reduce the burden of development on Network Management user interfaces - providing sophisticated geographical maps to the application provider without needing to create & license bloat-ware.
  • API integration of Google Maps into iPod Touch or iPhone with Location would reduce the burden of use with Network Management user interfaces - providing a unified look-and-feel to what users expect in typical mapping applications while on foot or in their car
  • People are already familiar with standard notification technology with their home computers through Web 2.0 interfaces and the mobile equivalents (through devices such as the Apple iPod Touch and Apple iPhone) - so the building of new notification technology filters by vendors becomes irrelevant, allowing users to use interfaces comfortable to them, while being productive more quickly when starting to use the standard interfaces
  • The cost of a Apple "iTablet" hardware (or whatever it will be called) would be far less than the licensing per-user that is typically paid to a vendor on a per-seat charge, if standard interfaces could be developed to Web 2.0 environment.
  • Not knowing what managed vendor equipment looks like is something that could be a thing of the past when leveraging software suite built into the Apple iPhone or iPod Touch - with the ability to have integrated photo library that sync's with a central database, a library could be kept up-to-date on all remote devices very easily, since the software management is built in.
Closing Thoughts

Will Apple release a tablet?

This is a great unknown, but all being said, moving Network Management applications to devices like the Apple iPod Touch and iPhone is a no-brainer.

A larger form factor in an appliance (that is not an Apple laptop) could easily infiltrate the Network Management business, especially if it can demonstrate cost savings during dire economic times.

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