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Since tablets first entered the mainstream in about 2010, their business uses have become increasingly evident.
Now found everywhere from the Point of Sale to the information kiosk and in the hands of the mobile workforce, these tablets have also become more sophisticated over their decade of employment.
With their ability to access software in the Cloud and also store data remotely, tablets have steadily become a viable alternative to cumbersome computers and laptops, replacing reams of paperwork and legacy hardware systems along the way.
Now used across industries ranging from aviation to education, enterprise and hospitality, tablets have become the go-to option for businesses seeking mobility, portability and simplicity.
Traditionally more affordable than laptops or desktops, tablets also offer the opportunity to embrace mobile technology in an economically sustainable way.
That sees tablets now deployed in aircraft cockpits to streamline flight paperwork, at airports, hotels and events to handle check-ins, in education for children looking to learn skills trough apps and games, and in hospitality as the Point of Sale.
They can also be found across the business and healthcare sectors in the form of digital notebooks, information kiosks, digital advertising, visitor sign-in, customer surveys and so much more.
But depending on your business and the way the tablet will be deployed, some are suited to specific tasks more than others. Meanwhile, some models offer features more akin to a laptop, while others allow for ease of use and accommodate a greater range of business apps.
So, it begs the question, if you’re looking to embrace the mobile age and adopt tablets in your business, which tablet or iPad is likely to suit best?
First unveiled by Apple founder Steve Jobs on January 27, 2010, the game-changing iPad proved a truly ground-breaking tablet and one which continues to dominate the market 10 years later.
By the time Apple stopped revealing specific iPad sales in 2018, more than 400 million units of the various generations had been sold.
The iPad lineup now extends from the 7.9-inch Mini and the 10.2-inch garden variety model, through to the lightweight 10.5-inch Air and the enterprise level 11-inch and 12.9-inch Pros.
The beauty of the iPad lies in its simplicity, ease of use, ongoing software support and models with price points that suit almost all sectors of the market.
Apple also introduced the concept of the App store to the mainstream, opening the door for developers to come up with innovative software solutions that can be deployed via the Cloud for tablets.
The upshot is that iPads tend to accommodate the greatest range of enterprise apps, including those tailored specifically to business.
In 2019, Apple also unveiled a dedicated operating system specifically for its iPad lineup in a bid to shift the focus away from a mobile device and ensure iPads were a true laptop alternative.
With its strong market share in the mobile phone sector, Samsung was another early entrant into the tablet arena, unveiling their first tablet back in 2010.
Their focus has predominantly been the Android market, which they have effectively cornered. Over the years Samsung have consistently ranked as the second most popular tablet brand after Apple, courtesy of the relative affordability and scope of their range.
Samsung tablets start out at a budget price point but extend right up to the Tab S6, which currently competes against models like the iPad Pro. Along the way they have released new models every year and even dabbled in a Windows 2-in-1 for the professional sector in 2016.
The beauty of an Android tablet lies in the availability of apps. Android ranks as the most popular operating system and the range of apps available on Google Play currently exceeds 2.1 million.
The issue, however, with Android is that some apps will only work with certain releases of the Android software, which soon begins to limit the options available.
Microsoft was relatively late to the party when it came to producing tablets, unveiling their first device in 2012. In the years since, they’ve looked to make up for lost time, rolling out consistent upgrades of their devices and establishing a comprehensive range known as the Surface line.
The strength of Microsoft lies in its dedication to the Windows operating system. Windows remains the OS favoured by many due to its workplace performance and software like MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc.
The Surface range looks to capitalise on this, offering devices that span from the mid-range to the high-spec and deliver a Windows immersive experience.
It’s important to note there are other tablet manufacturers on the market offering Windows as the operating system. But as the tech giant who developed the software, Microsoft plays the software to premium effect.
As of 2020, Microsoft offers three tablet options in addition to a laptop with detachable screen.
Each has a focus on “working on the go” which Microsoft flagged would be its target niche in 2018.