Indeed a query I made after our discussion about running IBM mobile software on Windows Phone 7 or Hewlett-Packard's WebOS devices got the following politely damning response from a spokeswoman: "IBM provides mobile device support when it is in demand. Our customers are not asking us to provide support for the new Windows Phone, so we don't support that platform. The same holds true for HP. We have not seen enough demand. If that changes, we'll consider supporting the platforms."
The disappearing PC
Along with other InfoWorld colleagues, I've written about the consumerization of IT, and it's a trend that Cavanaugh sees as well. "The tablet is the best metaphor for that transformation ... and they are not running traditional PC operating systems," he says.
"But the format is a potentially a substitute for the PC in many cases. I've talked to CIOs who think they might be able to replace 20 percent of laptops with tablets over the next few years. So the hierarchy of Windows and Office that we accept as our environment will change," he says.
Cavanaugh himself carries an iPad when he travels, though he recently started using a RIM PlayBook as well. Despite his role as a mobile evangelist, Cavanaugh doesn't argue that no one need carry a PC: "If I'm traveling for two days, a tablet is fine. But three days and I'll carry a PC."
The switch to tablets, he says, is driven more by convenience than cost savings, since tablets can cost nearly as much as a midrange laptop. (Seeing an opportunity in that pricing, IBM Global Financing announced at BlackBerry World that it will offer low-interest leasing options for tablet computers regardless of manufacturer, a move aimed at increasing the penetration of tablets in the enterprise.)
It's not news that many IT execs are resistant to the use of tablets because of security concerns. But because the BlackBerry smartphone is so widely used in the enterprise, Cavanaugh figures that RIM's BlackBerry-tethered tablets will have a better reception than those running iOS or Android.
"The counterstory is that CIOs say, 'I don't want iPad in cause I don't think secure.'" And Android? "It's new as well, and yes, there are concerns. On the one hand, Android is more open [than Apple's iOS], so CIOs worry that you can put malicious stuff on it. On the other hand, a proactive CIO can put protection on it without waiting for Apple."