While tablet devices are becoming increasingly more important as businesses become more mobile, consumer tablets don't always have a place in the corporate environment, according to Panasonic IT products business unit director Hide Harada.
Panasonic hopes to release a 10.1-inch Android tablet early next year.
At a media briefing in Osaka, Japan, Harada said that one of the problems that business customers had with consumer devices was that they could be misused, for example, to play games.
"Our corporate customers say they hate their people to play around during working hours," he said, adding that companies have had to resort to not allowing its workers to bring in tablets.
He also said that it was false economy for businesses and government to purchase low-cost, non-ruggedised consumer devices for work and replace them if they get damaged. To illustrate, Panasonic Australia group manager Mark Wallis referred to Australian Venture Development Corporation, which found that once the business factored lost productivity, data, sales and customers into the equation, the cost of ownership for low-cost tablets was $8000 more than for ruggedised devices.
"I think they will try to minimise lost time, down time, particularly if their segment is mission critical, like police department or ambulance. They cannot have computer damage in their organisation," Harada said.
While Harada admitted that utilising "disposable" tablets might be more plausible with greater uptake of the cloud, since data wouldn't be lost if the tablets broke, he pointed out that cloud depended on high-speed connectivity. He wasn't convinced that Australia's mobile networks were truly up to providing the level of connectivity in outdoor areas where ruggedisation counts.
The company has plans to launch a ruggedised Android-based tablet early next year, targeting the Australian enterprise sector. It first announced the concept of the tablet in the US in June, and while ZDNet Australia can confirm that a prototype model exists, the company has kept details closely under wraps, forbidding any photos of it.
It will be the company's first foray outside of its traditionally Windows-dominated tablets. According to the company, the 10.1-inch design will include a stylus and a non-glossy XGA screen, optimised for outdoor use.
Harada said that as it stood, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy were not secure enough for business. The company has therefore spent considerable effort considering security measures. While the company couldn't comment on what exact measures it would be taking to protect the tablet, it did say that the security would be embedded at the hardware level.
"Corporate needs to have some sort of security. We are very interested in developing, somehow, an Android-based tablet that is ruggedised, but that really depends on how much you can secure the information," he said.
Michael Lee travelled to Japan as a guest of Panasonic Australia.