Weekly Roundup: Apple, Microsoft Spice Up Tablet Market; Gartner Releases 2013 Tech Predictions
It was a big week for the tablet market, as Apple released the iPad Mini and Microsoft unveiled the Surface tablet, along with the new Windows 8 OS. The flurry of activity certainly seemed to lend credence to Gartner’s tech predictions for 2013 — that Apple, Google, and Microsoft will continue to jockey for control of the smartphone and tablet markets. Here’s week-in-review recap of the action:
Usher in the iPad Mini — and its Pricetag: The highly anticipated iPad Mini was formally announced Wednesday, although the biggest shocker didn’t involve any of the device specs. Rather, it was the starting pricetag — $329 for the 16GB Wi-Fi-only model and up to $659 for a model with cellular reception. Compare that to Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7, both 7-inch tablets and presumably the Mini’s most direct competition, which are both priced at $199 — although TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington argued that the Mini isn’t overpriced. Analysts still predict the Mini will sell like hotcakes between now and Christmas, although it’s unclear how popular the Mini will be within the enterprise, according to ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker. InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman agrees: The Mini is essentially a media tablet designed to push movies and music, not business-centric productivity apps, he says.
Can Microsoft Compete?: Worldwide, nine out of every 10 computers is powered by Windows — meaning that if Microsoft ever puts together a compelling mobile computing operating system, Microsoft (not Android, or BlackBerry, or even Apple) could ultimately wind up dominating the corporate-liable enterprise device market. Of course, the operative would is “could.” The new Surface tablet isn’t expected to compete directly with Apple, despite mostly positive product reviews, but it does set the stage for a host of other device manufacturers to start building their own Windows 8-ready tablets. Forbes’ Patrick Moorhead says the enterprise’s interest in preserving legacy apps and hardware will be the key to the Surface’s success. And while Tim Worstall on Forbes isn’t so bullish on its chances, ZDNet’s Zack Whittaker says the Windows/Surface target is clearly on the BYOD crowd:
“The tablets themselves aren’t locked down to purely work-mode, they’re also ‘work from home’ devices, and ‘home’ devices all at the same time. Whichever mode you’re in, the tablet will fit the user’s need.”
What’s in Store for 2013: Research analysis firm Gartner held its yearly symposium this week in Orlando, and released a slew of stats and reports. Analyst David Cearley unveiled his annual IT predictions for the upcoming year, calling for the mobile OS wars to continue, for Big Data jobs to increase, and for a rise of hybrid IT roles, where tech workers work in third-party SaaS procurement-type roles. (Eric Lundquist of InformationWeek “handicapped” these predictions — a good read.)
Beyond the IT predictions, Gartner also speculated that there will be more iPads than BlackBerrys in the enterprise within two years, and that over the next five years, almost two-thirds of companies will adopt a mobile device management software for corporate-liable users. Also: Worldwide IT spending is expected to reach $3.7 trillion in 2013 — up 3.8 percent from this year, Gartner said.
Uber Mobile blogger Eric Lai added his spin to yet another Gartner prediction — that Chief Marketing Officers will likely command more tech budget than the IT department in the near future. Marketers within an organization, Lai says, tend to flock toward the newest and shiniest devices (more so than IT, certainly) and thus are probably the ones leading the BYOD charge. Says Lai, ”I do believe, however, that marketing is at the forefront of the Great Culture War called the ‘Consumerization of IT’. That the various lines of business, led by marketing, are wresting power over technical decisions away from the IT managers and their dismal PCs and data centers.”