updated 12:20 pm EDT, Mon April 18, 2011
Dell pays for study to steer business from tablets
Dell on Monday published a study it had conducted in hopes of steering companies away from tablets. The results, conducted by Forrester in February, had just eight percent of workers considering an iPad or Android tablet one of the two devices they'd want to have. A similar amount wanted a Windows tablet, but demand for smartphones and computers ranged from 41 percent to 59 percent.
The PC builder's Paul D'Arcy argued that there were some benefits to getting a tablet for mobility, especially for health care or retail, but also cast doubt on whether they would ever replace PCs outright. Adding them would also bring "another layer of challenges" to staff who already had to start supporting personal smartphones and computers, he claimed.
"They can replace paper-based systems and introduce new productivity places, but this only makes them a companion device, not a replacement for existing PCs," D'Arcy said. "In a market where strategies are constantly evolving, in an ecosystem that has yet to mature, the one thing we can bet on is this: the PC is not dead."
The same study, however, also showed significant interest in tablets and partly contradicted the Dell conclusions. Of IT officers asked, at least 53 percent saw more than a low level interest in tablets, the largest portion of which were executives asking for their own. Companies also said they expected a large portion of all their staff to find more uses for tablets. Even in one piece of the survey, conducted last summer, about 82 percent also saw official support for smartphones and tablets going up at least five percent in the next two years.
The study is somewhat suspect as it was paid for in February by Dell and Intel, both of whom would see the most benefit from keeping the iPad and its rivals out of the workplace. Dell's non-PC tablets have so far been limited to the home oriented Streak line where all its intended business sales are focused on desktops and notebooks. Intel in turn has its own minority stake in tablets through its Atom processors but also stands to make much more money from regular notebook and desktop chips.
Although the specific effects on corporate buying haven't been mentioned, the iPad has been shrinking overall PC sales at the same time as businesses were believed to be delaying their system upgrades. Mobile OS tablets like Apple's or those using Google's platform still only sometimes have desktop-level software and often don't have the expansion companies need or want, but they have been pushing into top firms as notebook alternatives for presentations, e-mail, and mobile-friendly apps like Salesforce.