The phone, the tablet and the hybrid of the two, referred to as the phablet (it’s bigger than a smartphone, but smaller than a tablet) are three key devices that are becoming more and more essential to the 21st-century corporate worker.
Three operating systems (OSs), namely Google Android 5, Apple iOS 6 and Windows 8, and the three network interfaces that make them useful everywhere – Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G – are triggering a new wave in the device market with its new characteristics and high potential to re-shape the workplace.
Initially, OS releasesprimarily targeted the market for devices with 3-4in (about 7.6-10.1cm) screens (smartphones). Later, they were optimized for the market for devices with 10in (about
25.4cm) screens (tablets), where the bulk of the devices sold came with a Wi-Fi interface only. Today, smartphone screens are generally becoming bigger, meaning they are 3-4.5in (about 7.6-11.4cm) wide, but tablet screens are shrinking to 7-10in (about 17.8-25.4cm).
For the first wave of tablets, purchased primarily for private use, Wi-Fi was judged by most users as only OK. But today the tablet has the potential to become one of the two key devices that knowledge workers depend on for their working lives, the other being the smartphone. Therefore, we can expect a Wi-Fi/3G/4G interface to become the standard for tablets, as professional users will expect tablets to work wherever smartphones do.
What’s also important to note is that applications used to be optimized for each device type. Today, however, the borders between devices and applications have almost been eliminated, and new OSs provide an integrated experience across a variety of screen sizes and device categories.
I wonder what we’ll call a device with a 6in (15.2cm) screen, once it exists.