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Mobile Devices Galore

April 13, 2012  - By 0 Comments

Few, if any, technology products reach a worldwide audience hotter than mobile devices. I’m talking about smartphones, tablets, handhelds, and even notebooks to some extent. When’s the last time you bought a desktop computer?

As I mentioned in my March 23 Geospatial Solutions column, at the GIS in Action conference I asked a Google presenter if he thought the mobile phone is going to be the primary mobile device people will carry. He said, “No, it’s going to be the tablet computer.”

The competition certainly seems to be between the smartphone and the tablet, or maybe a hybrid version of the two. From a geospatial user perspective, we’ve been showered these past few months with tablet device offerings.

1. Kindle FireThe most significant tablet computer introduced since the iPad two years ago. Its low price has opened up the tablet market to a new level of adopters. Kindle Fire is the poster child for the many, many Android-based tablets on the market from Sony, Samsung, Motorola, LG, ASUS, etc.

Salient features: Wi-Fi, Android operating system, web browsing, less than US$200. It’s all about the low price.

Oops: Doesn’t run the latest Google Android operating system.

Geospatial apps: ArcGIS for Kindle Fire

Adoption: 5+ million sold since its introduction last fall.


2. Apple iPad. This product started the new revolution in tablet computing. Apple’s proprietary style may hurt it as competition from Google Android devices heats up.

Salient Features: The defacto standard for tablet computing. Apps, apps, apps, and more apps. Shares the same operating system as the iPhone and iTouch.

Oops: One trick pony. There is only one iPad. Google will license Android to almost anyone. Closed Bluetooth so you can’t interface to external instruments (GPS, laser rangefinders, etc.).

Geospatial apps: ArcGIS for iOS, iCMTGIS, iGIS, GeoJot, GISPro

Adoption: 75+ million sold since its introduction two years ago. The latest iPad sold 3 million units in the first three days it was available.


3. Windows-based tablets. Acer Iconia Tab Series, Samsung Series 7. Windows-based tablet computers at near iPad prices.

Salient Features: Microsoft Windows 7 operating system. GIS software compatibility.

Oops: Battery life, expensive.

Geospatial apps: Take your pick. Virtually any GIS app designed for Windows XP/7 will run on these tablets.

Adoption: Weak. Although Microsoft has been promoting tablet computers for 10+ years, they are getting beat up in the tablet market, at least with the general public. The Windows operating system still has a lot of value with professional users due to software/workflow compatibility. Be on the lookout for Windows 8 and Microsoft Office apps (optimized for low power, etc.) as Microsoft tries to leverage the power of Windows and match the appeal of the Ipad.

Look for more coverage on smartphones and handhelds soon.

Thanks, and see you next week.

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This article is tagged with , , and posted in GSS Monthly, Mobile Devices, Opinions, Technology
Eric Gakstatter

About the Author:

Eric Gakstatter has been involved in the GPS/GNSS industry for more than 20 years. For 10 years, he held several product management positions in the GPS/GNSS industry, managing the development of several medium- and high-precision GNSS products along with associated data-collection and post-processing software. Since 2000, he's been a power user of GPS/GNSS technology as well as a consultant with capital management companies; federal, state and local government agencies; and private companies on the application and/or development of GPS technology. Since 2006, he's been a contributing editor to GPS World magazine and the Geospatial Solutions website. He is the editor of Geospatial Solutions Monthly, a weekly newsletter focused on geospatial technologies. Follow Eric on Twitter at @GPSGIS_Eric.

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