iPhone and iPad versus Atrix and Dock – the battle for the pocket
While researching a major new analysis of the market for biometric authentication on smartphones (due to be published by Goode Intelligence next month), I spoke to Karen Kiffney, Senior Manager, Product Marketing with RSA. One comment really struck me. “I think that when it launched the iPhone,” she said, “[Apple] wasn’t really aiming it at the corporate market – it was primarily for personal use. So now that it’s being adopted for business, Apple has some catch-up to do: and I’m not sure it really knows yet exactly what it should be doing.”
This would explain an apparent anomaly. The history of computing has been one of expanding power and reducing size, until we now have the computer-in-the-hand known as the smartphone. But the iPad came after the iPhone and reverses this trend – computers are getting bigger again. Unless Apple got it wrong (heaven forfend!). The iPhone was never intended to be a tiny computer; it was always just a fancy phone. The tiny computer was always intended to be the iPad.
So what will the business adoption of the iPhone do to sales of the iPad?
Well, the iPad is selling very well, thank you very much. In the quarter ending 25 December 2010, Apple sold 7.33 million iPads. But in the same quarter, it sold more than double that number of iPhones: 16.24 million (hat tip to Guidance Software for pointing out these figures for me).
But will a businessman buy both, or choose one over the other? Will the attraction of the ultimate in portability (a fully functional computer that slips into your pocket or handbag rather than a larger device that needs some form of briefcase) benefit the phone? And, one has to ask, is Karen Kiffney right: Apple doesn’t really know what it should be doing, and has ended up caught between a computer that is the ultimate in portability but is difficult to use and one that is easier to use but less portable?
Confusion is another name for opportunity. So will this confusion allow competitors to step up? One very interesting new development is Motorola’s new Atrix 4G smartphone with its separate Laptop Dock. The dock is just a keyboard and screen. All of the computing power comes from the Atrix phone that plugs into the laptop dock: so it combines the portability of the smartphone with the ease of the tablet. I can see companies buying their staff one phone and two docks: a dock for the office and a dock for the home and a phone for the travel. And, since it runs the more open Android software rather than the anal iOS, there is far greater potential for a wider range of software.
I think we’re in for exciting times. The battle for the desktop will continue; but now we also have the battle for the pocket. And it’s only just beginning.