The futility of the single-device solution

Maybe one day a single device will adapt to different use cases, but until then, embrace the power of having multiple devices

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It's all about their becoming more flexible and agile, so they can work the way they want. That's the promise of mobile in the first place! When mobile is done well, employees get the information and tools they need, when and where they need it, so they can be more productive and efficient.

No, they don't want to carry around a lot of devices, each optimized for part of the job, but that doesn't mean they don't want more than one device. Yes, it is a pain to lug a laptop and a tablet around. But many already do so because the benefits outweigh that inconvenience.

This is why I believe in the next 18 months we still won't be able to get to one device for all users. Some devices are better in some situations than others, so we'll need multiple devices. Yes, it is technically possible to shoehorn your users into one device, whether it's a Windows hybrid or a tablet that uses VDI to access Windows apps, but those are compromises that hinder the true enablement of your users.

I also don't believe that a two-device approach has to be more expensive than a single-device approach. It of course depends on the devices you choose, but hybrid devices are extremely expensive when they are enterprise-ready, so the cost of a standard laptop and a tablet can in fact be much cheaper.

More tantalizing, though, is the savings in costs when you move to a mobile-first development approach. Going mobile-first means focusing on the user needs and simplifying your apps to meet those needs on whatever devices they are using. As you move from smartphone to tablet to PC, you may see the app gain more functionality. That's because the total tool -- the combination of app and device -- are different, so the use case changes as you move among them. But that root simplification makes the tool easier and more efficient to work with, increasing productivity and decreasing wasted effort. That's a real, long-term cost savings, well beyond the nominal cost of the devices and even support.

A version of this article, "The futility of the single-device solution," originally appeared at A Screw's Loose and is republished at with permission (© Brian Katz). Read more of Brian Katz's The Squeaky Wheel blog at or at A Screw's Loose. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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