If only Apple was as forthcoming about their next-generation devices as Microsoft is. While Appledom is still tentatively anticipating a possible iTV release in 2012, Microsoft has revealed another kind of wall-mounted smart device that could do to the executive board room what iTV promises to do in the family room: revolutionize it.
According to an interesting piece from Wired, Steve Ballmer over at Microsoft rocks an 80-inch tablet. Before you cue the canned how does he fit that in his pocket? or is that an 80-inch tablet in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me? jokes, understand that Ballmer’s tablet, which runs Windows 8, hangs on his wall in his office. Microsoft VP Frank Shaw explained in thusly:
“Steve Ballmer has an 80-inch Windows 8 tablet in his office. He’s got rid of his phone, he’s got rid of his note paper. It’s touch-enabled and it’s hung on his wall . . . It’s his whiteboard, his email machine, and it’s a device we’re going to sell.”
Earlier in the year, the Sharp Aquos Board touchscreen was revealed at the CES in Las Vegas, and many assumed that this new mystery tablet was what Shaw was talking about. Apparently that is not the case, however. It’s not Microsoft’s Surface, either — though it does share a similar feature: it will be a device that most likely will not be aimed at consumers at the outset of its release. Instead, Microsoft will most likely use it to entrench their market share in the business community, as Apple continues to make deep inroads into the business sector with their Macs and mobile devices.
What I find particularly interesting is that this big slab ‘o tablet runs Windows 8, an operating system that at present is being marketed mainly as a mobile platform.
To be sure, an 80-inch tablet is far from being mobile. But the idea that a big Microsoft device is running the same Windows 8 OS that accompanying smartphones are running evokes the idea that Microsoft could manage to merge mobile and desktop platforms into one even quicker than Apple — perhaps not for consumer consumption, but rather for business consumption.
One can imagine an ingenious business-based ecosystem that pulls together cloud computing, NFC, and a unified operating system to make business computing seamless; if this new tablet were to become ubiquitous in the corporate world, communication, presentations, data sharing and integration, order processing, operations, and other departmental functions could be managed via this technology. In fact, the idea of large, touchable, wall-hung tablets could be used as communal hub devices in every department of a big business, with individuals interacting and sharing with it via their own mobile devices.
But since this is an Apple-related blog, let’s bring the discussion back to Apple and the iTV.
It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that, should the iTV turn out to be what we think it will be, it could also serve as the basis for a competing business device down the line. However, it would appear that Microsoft has the market cornered on macro devices like these mega tablets. While Apple does seem keen to penetrate the corporate market, it would appear that it is a secondary objective; Mac, after all, is still far from dominating the PC and laptop world.
It will be interesting, however, to see if Apple beats Microsoft to the punch in terms of the iTV melding iOS and OS X together — or perhaps running iOS 6 as its operating system. It would also appear that iTV might end up being able to interact with the iPhone and iPad as well. In this way, Apple might manage to do with the iTV what Microsoft is trying to do with this 80-inch tablet. And while the business world might rejoice at a pricey new gadget, I foresee the iTV becoming a much more universally adopted device over the next few years.
By Michael Nace