Back in 2010, the introduction of the Apple iPad reenergized the tablet market, and most PC-based contenders entered the ring. Many predicted tablets would revolutionize the lives of the mobile workforce with their flexibility and touchscreen applications. Laptop sales were predicted to plummet.
But the tablet’s Achilles heel is actually the laptop’s strength: a keyboard for heavy data entry, multiple I/O options and support of legacy business software. Six years after the advent of the iPad and its imitators, 9 of 10 on the go workers still use traditional laptops.
Technology may move at breakneck speed, but most companies and users will hold on to tried and true solutions until a clearly superior offering is available. Evidenced by how long it took Enterprise customers to migrate up from Windows XP.
In 2015, Panasonic surveyed over 2,650 business technology buyers and users in Europe about their preferred mobile business devices. Research reveals 9 of 10 mobile employees use laptops for work, 7 of 10 use a smartphone, 6 of 10 use a desktop PC, and 3 of 10 use a tablet.
Even though the study found 90% still use laptops for work, the majority of those same workers believe laptop/tablet hybrids are the way of the future. Looking ahead, 36 percent of those surveyed also believe that hybrids will become the dominant business computer within three years, eclipsing traditional laptops. Respondents forecast future hybrid domination even though only 1 of 10 currently use hybrid laptop/tablets. That’s enormous projected growth for the Enterprise 2-in-1 device market.
Hybrids on the Rise
What is it that drives workers’ predictions that hybrid computers will dominate in the future? Extra features that equal more than just the sum of two parts. Workers said they want more software and functionality, better performance, longer battery life, a keyboard, interfaces such as extra USB ports, and better security through optional add-ons like smart card readers. It’s the promise of added functionality that inspires mobile employees to bet on hybrids.
But perhaps the real driver behind hybrid interest is the ability of these devices to deliver all the benefits of both tablets and laptops in a single package. For a field worker who crawls into tiny spaces to inspect equipment but later needs to write up a detailed report, a purpose-built hybrid laptop is the optimal solution. In situations where workers need mobility and functionality, the hybrid delivers both with few compromises.
Many may view a tablet with an optional keyboard as an equal solution, but there are several drawbacks to this approach. From a connectivity standpoint, a hard connection between keyboard and laptop is most reliable. Radio interference and other factors will not come into play. Thoughtfully designed Enterprise hybrids also include an additional battery and multiple connectivity options in their keyboard bases, where aftermarket keyboards do not. For example, if you need a serial port to connect to legacy equipment, the best hybrid devices, targeting business and government applications, include that feature along with other customization and configuration options. These options would be virtually impossible to find on a separate wireless keyboard or even a magnetically attachable one.
Companies plotting out their mobile workforce technology roadmap should consider the benefits of next generation, ruggedized, enterprise hybrid laptops. By delivering a mobile computing solution that provides the functionality and flexibility needed to increase worker productivity, bottom line improvements are easily within reach.
Although the traditional laptop remains the king of the hill for the moment, the lure of detachable hybrid computers threatens to radically shift the balance in the coming years.
For information on Panasonic’s rugged hybrid computer, the Toughbook 20, watch the videos below and check the product website for specifications, brochures, product news and more.