Getting off Apple and going all Google has increased my respect for both companies. I've come to realize that the very best mobile experience right now is built on a foundation of Google services on Apple hardware. I wish only that these two companies could get along better, and that Apple will allow more Google integration on the iPhone.
Lenovo's table PC in the office: pros and cons
One of the biggest showstoppers at CES last week was Lenovo's Horizon -- a 27" all-in-one Windows 8 table PC designed to be used by multiple people at once. The table PC concept isn't new. Microsoft brought a table PC solution to market with OEM partners in 2007, the same year that Apple launched the iPhone. That solution, now known as PixelSense and previously known as Microsoft Surface (no relation to the company's current tablets), was targeted at the retail and hospitality markets and gained little attention -- and virtually no traction -- in the broader enterprise space or in the consumer market.
By contrast, most of the news about the Horizon focused on ways that families will be able to use it at home. In fact, most of the demos of the Horizon show it being used for multi-player games including board games like Monopoly and arcade-era classics like air hockey and Gauntlet.
Although gaming and family entertainment is one clear use of the Horizon, it might find its way into the workplace as well. In an interview with Computerworld's Sharon Gaudin, Moor Insights & Strategy analyst Patrick Moorhead even predicted that devices like the Horizon will become office mainstays.
"This form factor will be part of the office of the future," According to Moorhead. "Collaborating on one display will add richness and depth to discussions and make a meeting more of a participation activity versus a passive one."
That's a pretty bold statement, but is it really all that far-fetched? In the years since Microsoft initially released its table PC concept into the market, touchscreen devices of various sizes and shapes have become integral parts of our daily lives, ranging in size from the postage stamp sized iPod nano that Apple introduced a couple of years ago up to CNN's giant touchscreen wall that debuted during the 2008 presidential campaign.
In organizations of all sizes and types, iPads and other tablets have become routine sights at meetings and presentations, being used to take notes and deliver presentations to a projector or other type of display. More noteworthy when talking about the Horizon, however, is that the devices are often passed around a conference table (as illustrated in this iPad case study from Apple) so that various folks can review, edit, and comment on content . One could easily imagine dropping the Horizon, or another table PC, in the middle of the table and letting people view that content communally. With everyone reading/reviewing and commenting all at once, modifications to a blueprint, advertising campaign, or video, the process might go much more smoothly -- and without generating layer after layer of comments and edits.
On the other hand, there is that old adage about too many cooks spoiling the meal. With several people attempting to comment, highlight items, or make changes at once, a meeting -- and even documents or projects on the screen -- could become a audible and digital cacophony. In such a situation, the Horizon might end up impeding productivity, input, and collaboration rather than aiding it.
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Brandon Porco, the chief technologist for defense contractor Northrop Grumman, says that IT will have to try lots of different things and move quickly to keep abreast of evolving employee needs. "Google has it very well-patterned: Launch and iterate."
Although Apple is often accused of not being an enterprise company, it's only in the last few years that Apple has abandoned its enterprise-oriented products. The real story may be that Apple's discovered that making enterprise-focused efforts simply don't deliver a huge return on investment.