Windows IT managers: The iPad's next growth market

How much more every day must Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hate the Apple iPad? Certainly, a bit more when an SQL Server and .Net system administration tools company points to the iPad as the next-best thing for IT managers.

How much more every day must Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer hate the Apple iPad? Certainly, a bit more when an SQL Server and .Net system administration tools company points to the iPad as the next-best thing for IT managers.

In a recent post on the Business of Software blog,  Red Gate Software CEO Neil Davidson talked up the company's SQL Response v2 SQL Server monitoring and alerting tool. The tool presents users with real-time performance and diagnostic data, history and alerts, Red Gate says.

Oh, and you’d be able to monitor your SQL Servers from your mobile phone.

Like anybody would want to do that. What a dumb idea, monitoring your servers from your Blackberry.

And then, six months ago, Apple launched the iPad. Monitoring servers from a mobile device suddenly doesn’t seem so dumb. But we didn’t realize that until Tech Ed a couple of weeks ago when Ben and Gareth showed SQL Response 2 running on an iPad to a bunch of DBAs:

They loved it.

Of course, they did. Who wouldn't? BTW, the post's title is How to persuade your boss to buy you an iPad. At the bottom of the post is a sample letter for IT managers to lobby their bosses for an iPad.

This situation can't have been on the radar at Redmond.

The problem for Microsoft is that it has not only lost one development cycle, it's lost two. Apple is out in the market with a mobile solution that is being chosen by many market segments. Developers and users can leverage iPhone solutions as well as count upon those apps to migrate to the tablet platform.

During a session at the Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital conference Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Ballmer admitted that Microsoft had missed a cycle with mobile telephony, but he saw no problems with the iPad, other than "the race is on."

Ballmer: Sure. You’re going to have a range of devices over time that are light and don’t have a keyboard and will run Windows. Depending on what you want, there will be devices that offer a similar experience to Windows. There will be others that will be more customized, more optimized. This will be a real competitive form factor of innovation. We will, with our partners, drive innovation in form factor. Windows Phone, for example. Apple has chosen to do this as well.

8:55 am: Still more from Ballmer–Some people will want to have two different devices for two different purposes. But there has to be an option for an integrated device. The bulk of the market is going to stay with general-purpose devices.

It appears to me that this strategy runs into the wall of history. The trend in consumer (and business) segments for technology has been for a marketplace of many different devices, each of which offering targeted values for mobility, functionality and performance and cost.

For example, I have a radio in my kitchen, bathroom, and living room and one that fits in my pocket. "Radio" broadcasts also are streamed into my computer and television.

Of course, we will have general-purpose devices. But users will purchase a a variety of mobile devices and embedded computers as well as a machine that offers the current desktop or notebook capabilities. As we can see now, this is happening even in the IT management space.

Ballmer appears to be resisting the very basic principals of multiple form factors. Perhaps I was wrong: Redmond isn't two cycles out, more like three.

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