This week’s Google developer conference was packed with new announcements, not the least of which was the long rumored unveiling of the Nexus 7 – Google’s new 7” tablet positioned squarely to compete with both Apple’s iPad franchise on the high end and Amazon’s Kindle Fire on the lower end. By most accounts, the new Google tab is a well-engineered and powerful device in a nice form factor that should appeal not only to gamers, but also to business pros.
This comes right on the heels of last week’s launch announcement of the newMicrosoft Surface, a tablet that clearly is aimed at both the iPad and the business user with new features like a built in keyboard integrated with the cover. The Surface will feature the new Windows 8 OS (yet to be released) which should make it very welcome to the installed base enterprise users of MSFT software and hardware, including their extensive partner community.
The big winners here should be users. Both Google and Microsoft will look to push Apple on innovation, having finally produced viable tablets, which should eat into Apple share over time. This should also help MSFT and Google capture additional IT spend in the enterprise and further accelerate innovation around mobility.
The key question is, how long will it take for mobile first applications to become prominent in the enterprise? While there is an embarrassment of riches for mobile consumers, business users have a far different experience. Rare are apps like Expensify – Expense reports that don’t suck. Expensify provides a clean and simple mobile experience that maps closely to the experience you have when you log in from your laptop. As one enterprise CIO said to me recently, “we are tired of vendors pushing add-on mobile apps with only 10% functionality, especially when they expect us to pay more.”
Mobile is now pervasive, with both phones and tablet gaining share and users. The next battlefield in the enterprise will be mobile application innovation. May the best app win.