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Smartphones and Tablets By Kent L. Colby


here is no accepted single definition of what qualifies or makes a mobile phone “smart.” Multitasking devices have been around for some time with the merger of Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) and the cellular phone. One of the most notable advances moving the phone into the smart category came from Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry and the advent of omnipresent email. Add to the mix: cameras, browsers, texting, the functionality of a day-planner, portable media players, GPS navigation, highresolution screens, gigabytes of document and entertainment storage, most all components of an office suite, Wi-Fi, and the functionality of a phone. Now, that little quarter pounder is truly smart. In the business world, RIM’s BlackBerry was the phone of choice for the past decade or more; and was smart, but not as smart as today’s generation phone. The packaging and marketing of the iPhone perhaps did more than any other innovation to revolutionize the concept of the smartphone. The iPhone’s multi-touch interface, styling and cost were instantaneously accepted as the new performance baseline for smartphones. For a time, the iPhone operating system (iOS) took over the marketplace. Not to be outdone, other manufacturers have perfected phone operating systems (OS) to compete with RIM and Apple. Google jumped into


the race with its Android OS in 2007 and, according to many reports, is now the best-selling smartphone platform worldwide. The competition between the two operating systems is, however, as close as the recent Ohio Republican primary election. A couple of years ago, Microsoft entered the smartphone race with Windows Phone 7, offering a more business-focused outlook and superior integration with Microsoft’s range of office products. The reviews are generally favorable, but the market share has yet to break 5 percent.


Bigger than a phone, smaller than a computer, as powerful as a computer, more portable, and a flat touch-screen all meld together in the form of a tablet computer or simply, tablet. The Apple iPad may or may not have been the first tablet. But again, marketing and packaging with an operating system that paralleled its iPhone, Apple immediately rocketed the device into a worldwide commercial success. Pound for pound, a tablet probably costs more than a notebook; but the lighter weight, longer battery life, and functionality have made it a favorite for consumers. The quality of the screen enables movie viewing, MS PowerPoint presentations, e-book reading, business applications, and game playing avail-

What makes a phone smart? able ubiquitously. Connect using Wi-Fi or a cellular connection, and the world is at your fingertips.

Are They Really Smart?

National Instruments (NI), a leader in test and measurement, identifies the smartphone and tablet as one of the major five trends it believes will significantly influence the automated market. In the company’s Automated Test Outlook 2012, NI suggests, “The smartphone in every pocket and tablet in every bag are changing how you can control and monitor your test systems.” According to the report, “the introduction of the Apple iPhone and subsequent iPad, along with similar devices powered by software from Google, Microsoft and others, has ushered in a new era of mobile computing, with hundreds of millions of smartphones and tens of millions of tablets sold to consumers and businesses.” Consumers surveyed by the Nielsen Co. give credit to user experience, portability, longer battery life and faster startup times for the increased usage of tablets and smartphones over the more traditional PC.

Smartphones and Tablets Smart? Yes! And, they are habit forming. q • Alaska Business Monthly • April 2012

April - 2012 - Alaska Business Monthly  

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2012 Corporate 100 annual special section begins on page 86. Top citizens of industry are highlighted in this annu...

April - 2012 - Alaska Business Monthly  

Alaska Business Monthly’s 2012 Corporate 100 annual special section begins on page 86. Top citizens of industry are highlighted in this annu...