One mobile device management (MDM) company contends that the hockey-stick growth of tablet computers is sounding the death knell for laptops. And because of that, enterprises need the ability to create and auto-provision software images on tablets the way they have provisioned PCs in the past.
"You start work at a company, and the IT department gives you a laptop with a standard software image," explains Ahmed Datoo, vice president of marketing at Zenprise. "Why not be able to do that with tablets?"
Datoo has pronounced the laptop "dead." While he might be embellishing, he does make a point: today, users relying on tablets they've bought themselves for corporate access have to figure out how to get the software and files they need onto the devices, which can cause confusion and work delays.
To help elevate the tablet's status within the enterprise, Zenprise today announced the Enterprise App Store for Android, part of its heterogeneous MobileManager MDM platform. The feature gives enterprises a way to push preset configurations out to Android tablet computers and smartphones. Applications and even data files and presentations can be auto-provisioned based on a user's department, title or role within the organization.
Zenprise also announced a remote chat and remote control capability for Android devices, whereby help desk personnel can remotely view users' screens and troubleshoot them.
A 2011 report released by Yankee Group predicts that tablet sales will grow from 21 million in 2010 to 168 million in 2014, a sales curve outpacing HDTVs, handheld gaming consoles and MP3 players.
Chris Hazelton, research director of mobile and wireless at The 451 Group, agrees there's a "huge amount of energy around tablets, because they provide essential applications and services on devices that may be $500 to $800 and can always be connected."
However, he also states, "It will be some time before the laptop is no longer used."