When is a Tablet Not a Tablet?

Brian Riggs

B. Riggs

Summary Bullets:

  • Tablet-like mobile end points from Cisco and Avaya are distinct from consumer tablets
  • Cisco Cius and Avaya ADVD are distinct from each other

Cisco Cius and Avaya Desktop Video Device (ADVD) – They look like tablets: Mobile computers built into a flat touch screen, and are larger than a smartphone, but smaller than a laptop. They act like tablets with swipe interfaces. They have access to a variety of personal and video apps, and in Cius’ case, an app store. But they’re not tablets. At least IT managers shouldn’t think of them in the same way they think of tablets.

Here’s why: Tablet computers like the Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom are first and foremost consumer devices. Yes, people bring them to work and can run all sorts of business apps on them. But they were designed for mass appeal: low price points, super fast development cycle and millions of units sold – something Apple has realized and its competitors still dream about – equally adept as Web browser, game console, e-book reader or music player.

ADVD and Cius are different. They were designed with the enterprise in mind. More to the point, they were designed specifically with business communications in mind. They are mobile devices intended to be full-fledged end points of the PBX systems, voice mail systems, video conferencing solutions, corporate instant messaging and presence platforms, email applications and other communications infrastructure that IT departments manage and maintain. And while they are designed to run third-party apps – something Cius does now and ADVD is expected to later – native support for Cisco and Avaya software is their top priority.

ADVD and Cius are not just different from consumer tablets; they are also different from each other. Avaya’s device, as its name suggests, is video-centric. Think of it as Avaya’s alternative to Aastra BluStar or Polycom VVX 1500 – a video conferencing terminal that sits on end users’ desktops, with the added benefit of campus mobility. ADVD is also the device housing the “Flare Experience,” Avaya’s new user interface to enterprise communications software that will eventually be ported to consumer tablets as well.

Cius is also video-centric, also mobile within the campus (and beyond), and is an alternative to traditional office desk phones. It is smaller and considerably lighter than Avaya’s ADVD, similar in size to consumer tablets of the 7-inch variety. But where its difference from Avaya ADVD is most obvious is in its ability to act as a virtual desktop terminal within a Cisco Virtual Experience Infrastructure (VXI) environment. In this scenario, a monitor and keyboard connect to the Cius docking station, providing an interface to business applications that reside in the data center. In this way Cius and VXI combine to become an alternative to traditional PCs, in the same way thin client terminals from HP and Wyze are likewise alternatives to traditional PCs.

As IT managers formulate strategies for how tablets are to be supported in their organizations, they should be aware that the communications-centric “tablets” from Avaya and Cisco are more likely to supplement rather than substitute consumer tablets end users are bringing to the office. The Avaya and Cisco devices are more likely to replace traditional desk phones and video conferencing terminals, than more general-purpose consumer tablets.

About Brian Riggs
As Research Director, Enterprise Software and Communications, Brian Riggs oversees three practice areas: Application Infrastructure, Contact Center Solutions, and Enterprise Communications. In addition, he actively monitors the markets for unified communications solutions, converged communications systems, communications applications, managed communications services, and enterprise FMC. Brian has tracked the enterprise communications market for Current Analysis since 2001.

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