Tablet computing's big potential for business in 2011

Summary:I'm hugely honored and excited to be here and blogging at ZDNet Asia.I'm already an avid blogger here in Thailand, covering social media, tech and digital in Asia, where I discuss my thoughts on technology and digital in the local business world.

I'm hugely honored and excited to be here and blogging at ZDNet Asia.

I'm already an avid blogger here in Thailand, covering social media, tech and digital in Asia, where I discuss my thoughts on technology and digital in the local business world.

As a watcher who is heavily focused on digital and mobile in Southeast Asia, I couldn't help but keep my eyes and ears open to news during last week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

I twice attended the show, a few years prior to moving to Asia, and it was there when the significance of mobile Internet for the developing world--where Internet access is often out of reach for many due to financial difficulties and poor infrastructure--was truly laid out for me.

Key themes for this year's show included affordable mobile broadband, mass market smartphones and tablet computing which, in a business environment, is an equally fascinating topic.

Thailand was late to the party with the iPad, as was and still is the case with the iPhone. So, culturally the country is a little behind on tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tab is currently rivaling the iPad alongside a number of budget Android-based offerings, with the RIM Playbook likely not far from launch given RIM's phenomenal market share in the country.

One result of Thailand's position as a minority iPad market, coupled with its lack of 3G, is that its tablet computing market has yet to enter the business world in a significant way.

I say "yet" because, on a recent visit home to London, a number of friends recounted the joy of having their corporate technology arsenal expanded from just a laptop and a BlackBerry to include an iPad. That's right, Angry Birds, courtesy of the company…but I am sure there is a genuine value for them at a corporate level.

Despite the lack of a physical keyboard (which can be connected wirelessly to the device, as I'm frequently reminded), I was told the iPad can enable increased productivity and is particularly useful during meetings.

I'm really yet to be sold on this--perhaps because I don't yet own an iPad--although I did witness an excellent example of one being used recently.

Taking my two-year-old to the doctors for the second time in a week, prompted medication and discussion of follow-up treatment options which the doctor duly explained--with the assistance of a video on her iPad.

The visual references were hugely helpful when deciding the next treatment to go with, and I was able to appreciate first-hand the convenience of a near-instant boot-up and quick access to wireless, which is a process that can take five minutes on a laptop.

However, doctors aside, and despite my skepticism on its usage, the promise of imminent 3G and the formation of an increasingly competitive market of tablets look set to encourage more businesses in Thailand to consider rolling out such devices to many of their staff.

Much like the smartphone market and the rush for mass-market users, it will be interesting to see which brand takes the lead as tablet computing enters the potentially lucrative business market.

RIM could use its existing presence, and enterprise security and footprint, to make headway with its Playbook, while the iPad will always be popular as a top-of-the-market option and at the lower-end, the glut of Android-based devices offer a more economical option.

The Galaxy Tab remains a curious device which, from what I hear and see, has not made a huge splash in Thailand. Is that likely to change with business audiences?

Either way, executives in Bangkok may get a new toy to play with this year.

What would your choice of device be for your company, and why?

Topics: Laptops, Asean, BlackBerry, iPad, Mobility, Smartphones, Tablets, Tech Industry

About

Dwight Turner is an American social media addict living in Bangkok. He especially loves gadgets, photography, and examining the ways society interacts with emerging forms of technology.

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