Unless you have been living under a rock – or simply don’t care about (enterprise) mobility – you know that Research in Motion officially launched this week its first salvo in the tablet war with its BlackBerry PlayBook. This tablet comes on the heels of the iPad 2, myriad tablets running some flavor of the Android operating system and of course, the forthcoming HP TouchPad. General consensus? It’s not the iPad (2).
But then again, that’s the general consensus from almost every single reviewer of every single mobile device coming out these days. [Fill in the blank product] has these strengths and these weaknesses, but no matter how you cut it, it’s just not as nice as [Fill in Apple product here]. Sound familiar?
The way I see it, there are two primary reasons that most product reviews sound like the above paragraph. Firstly, the Reality Distortion Field emanating from One Infinite Loop in Cupertino is so broad and strong that Apple can do no wrong. Second, their products are really that darn good.
Now that said, I do believe that with all the hype that exists in (enterprise) mobility – hype that started with the smartphone – hype that has accelerated with the tablet, we should take a collective step back and proceed with a modicum of caution. In fact, I think the (enterprise) mobility industry can learn a great deal from recent sporting events, in terms of taking a broader and more level headed view on where we are headed. Specifically, I think we can learn from Golf, Baseball and Running.
- Golf: Take a look at 2011 The Masters tournament. 21 year old phenom, Rory McIlroy surprised everyone in the golf world to take a 12 under, four stroke lead going into the final round of the Masters tournament….only to implode in his Sunday play, shooting an eight over 80…ending up in 12th place.
- Baseball: The mighty Boston Red Sox made some major roster additions, most notably acquiring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez in the off season, making most baseball pundits, including Sports Illustrated, call them the “ones to beat” in the 2011 season. For those following Red Sox nation, the team started 0-6, then proceeded to 2-10…their worst start in franchise history.
- Running: The 115th Boston Marathon was conducted this past week. American runner Ryan Hall set the pace for most of the race. His 2 hours 4 minutes 58 seconds would have made him the winner last year….except for the fact that Geoffrey Mutai ran this year’s race in 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds (an unofficial World Record).
What can we learn in (enterprise) mobility from these sports examples? Nothing is certain.
Take for example the Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry PlayBook (QNX) platforms. Both have been deemed “unfinished” products in some circles. What most pundits overlook is that there are updates coming to both platforms…updates that will address some/many/most of the issues that have been brought to light. To say that these products are “too little, too late” to compete against the juggernauts of iOS and Android simply seems short sighted to me. Who would have predicted just SIX months ago that the Symbian platform would for all intents and purposes now be (un)officially dead? Few.
Now, all this said, there is no question that the iPad and Android tablets are the ones to beat today….but that is TODAY. Just like in golf, baseball and running, we must always keep in mind that the race towards dominance in (enterprise) mobility is a marathon…a marathon that is run at a sprinting pace, but a marathon nonetheless. One “winner” does not mean there will be two or three (or four) losers. The only thing that is certain is that there will be (like in sports) fierce competition that will undoubtedly entertain all those involved.