Microsoft’s new tablet will start off as WiFi only, according to a new report from Bloomberg, which might make it less desirable to some consumers, but it shouldn’t have much impact on Microsoft’s key audience: businesses.Only about 15% of tablet shipments last year went to businesses, and most of those didn’t have 3G or 4G connectivity, according to data from ABI Research, a market research firm.
“We’re not finding a lot of 3G or 4G connectivity on tablets shipped to businesses,” said Jeff Orr, an analyst with ABI who focuses on mobile devices. The exception to this, he says, are a select few industries like warehousing and logistics where workers are more likely to take tablets with them on-the-go, and so require more than just WiFi.
The bigger problem for Microsoft’s new tablet, Orr says, is that businesses just haven’t shown a strong appetite yet for tablets in general – regardless of whether they have a 3G or 4G option. That’s a big issue for a company like Microsoft that draws heavily from business clients.
“Larger business adoption, which will be the opportunity for Microsoft Surface products, really hasn’t picked up tablets en masse,” Orr said. “Does this product change that? It doesn’t seem that it does.”
There are two big obstacles for enterprise adoption of tablets, as Orr sees it. First, IT departments are concerned about the process of deploying and managing new form factors like tablets. Second, many businesses have strict requirements that any company device needs to be designed to withstand damage from being dipped in water or exposed to dust
Adding 4G connectivity doesn’t begin to solve either of these problems. Neither does adding a built-in keyboard case, for that matter.