Apple Leads Halfway to Display Only Computing

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With the iPad, Apple created the 1/2 of the  DOC – Display Only Computer, a highly portable, light, full day of work device. The iPad is  targeted for media play, gaming and Web surfing. The key innovation was no keyboard or mouse attached to this iBeauty – multi-touch and gestures would do thank you very much.

In the process, Apple collected a hoard of pursing Android tablets and slates which hoped to also have “a wonderful, magic” touch to offer their customers. In sum DOC-Display Only Computing , smacked of a major change in personal computing that will have wider application and a huge opportunity set.

This vision would have an iPad [or one of its Android impostors], being docked and acting like an ordinary PC with keyboard and mouse with Wifi, Bluetooth,  and/or USB 3.0 connections to printers, ultrafast SSD hard drives, and other peripherals. But at a Batagong signal, this ordinary PC could drop its work day peripherals and be transformed into a Super DOC – Display Only Computer. This is Sun’s Client Java Workstation of the late 1990’s  made light, portable and pragmatically dual purpose.

And these DOCs are versatile. One could take your iPad or other  DOC-Display Only Computer to a day of lectures with all the class textbooks and material right on board. At the lecture one could could record the audio of the proceedings and maybe  translate it into text.  Through Google Mail or Skype  you could talk /message with friends. One could have App powered computing power on the go.

Consider the potential goldmine in the office workplace . Staff can unhook  their DOC Android or iPad and take the machine home, to a presentation, or a meeting. Now being the secretary recording the minutes of the  meeting has not only computer help but the power of “what was said”. Instead of laptops, users take their multi-touch DOC-devices everywhere – no power worries. But if they need to get work done, then pound away at your office or home docking station. And with Wifi+Touch one could pickup all the meeting materials in a touch. There are huge market opportunities here.

But the iPad only gets you halfway there.

The docking capabilities of the iPad are paltry –  just a special connector to a keyboard-only power recharging+docking station. Despite having WiFi,  Bluetooth, and cellular connections, the iPad and devices are spartan.  No  extra USB connections [the docking station port supports one special USB  connector], no network port, no HDMI , no SD memory chip ports.

In contrast, the Samsung Galaxy Slate [one of the first of the wave of Android OS powered, multi-touch tablets coming down the pike] provides a  USB port, SD card slot, HDMI and Android 2.2 Froyo which supports Flash and much improved Dalvik processing speed.  There will be many more tablets  coming from Acer, Asus, Dell, HTC, LG, Lenovo, Samsung and others with more screen space, connectors, and docking station capabilities. Take the Fifth  fully expect to see a docking station enabled tablet from these players – particularly Dell and Lenovo.

As for Apple, Steve Jobs may yet deliver   full docking-capable machine – but likely next year with the iPad refresh in late Spring. But will it have business orientation. There is certainly need.  Organizations  are tired of  being tied to Microsoft Window’s roller coaster reliability, Patch-Tuesday security with constant headaches, and sometimes extortionate pricing. With power sipping dual processors, Virtual Machine capabilities, and the move to Cloud Computing imminent – change on the client side desktop is becoming evermore compelling. Its an open question of whether or not Steve Jobs wants to court this marketplace with its customizing and big software admin support demands. If Steve takes a pass,  this won’t be the first-time that Apple pioneers a market and then misses the big and lucrative business side of the market place.

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