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2/27/2011
11:05 AM
Bob Evans
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Global CIO: iPad Versus Motorola Xoom: Apps Give Apple Huge Advantage

In considering new Android and Blackberry tablets, CIOs need to focus on the numbers that matter: how many apps, and price of device.

Last week, I wrote about how the massive gravitational attraction of Apple's iPad tablet is sucking in huge numbers of enterprise applications that are giving Apple in aggregate an enormous advantage over future competitors from Android or RIM.

Yes, those competitors are certainly working feverishly to persuade the makers of mainstream business apps to provide versions for their tablets as well as for the iPad, and those big software companies—as well as thousands of smaller ones as well—will certainly make Android and Blackberry Playbook versions available.

For CIOs, the big question isn't whether or not they will do so; of course they will.

No, the big question is when: when will CIOs be able to begin buying and staging and deploying those apps that unlock the true business value of these devices?

Will those core enterprise apps be ready on the day these new tablets—most of which haven't even been released yet—are available for purchase? A month later? Three months? Six months?

If we'd turn back the hands of time 25 years or so, we could say that as long as Lotus 1-2-3 were available, that would seal the deal—one superapp would cover most requirements and justify the purchase.

But in today's high-pressure economic environment, CIOs must manage two different but equally intense priorities: first, leading the charge to mobilize the enterprise by giving hundreds or thousands of employees the mobile tools and solutions necessary to maximize revenue opportunities and enhance customer engagements.

And second, ensuring that every dollar they spend on IT unlocks new potential and new business opportunities, with as few constraints as possible.

In that context, I was a bit surprised at a recent analysis offered by the Wall Street Journal's superb Personal Technology columnist, Walt Mossberg. Under the headline "Motorola's Xoom Starts Tablet Wars With iPad," Mossberg described the capabilities of the new Motorola device and offered some head-to-head comparisons of it versus the iPad.

But in my humble opinion, Mossberg missed the mark by a rather significant margin when he mostly dismissed the enormous competitive advantage held by Apple and the iPad in the AppStore where more than 60,000 iPad-specific apps are available, along with more than 300,000 that run on both the iPhone and iPad.

Here's how Mossberg noted that vast disparity, lumping it into a series of descriptions of physical attributes as if the volume and quantity of available apps were just one more wonky feature in a checkbox comparison:

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