In Q&A about the The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, author, socio-economic pundit and The New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell highlights how the phrase “tipping point” originated in epidemiology. Gladwell notes that “..it's the name given to that moment in an epidemic when a virus reaches critical mass. It's the boiling point. It's the moment on the graph when the line starts to shoot straight upwards.” For field mobility, tablet and touch screen computing, the water has reached the proverbial 212° F. With the recent but predictable frenzy around Apple’s release of the iPad, the Tablet PC and tablet-optimized software will inevitably reach the so-called tipping point, the critical mass required for widespread, mass market, consumer adoption, leading to B2B adoption.
Previously (and unfairly) regarded as a “fringe” technology by laggards and naysayers, tablet computing and field mobility in construction is now relentlessly racing down the fast track to ubiquity. Revenues related to not only Tablet PCs, but to tablet-optimized software, will shoot straight upwards. Copycats will follow. In the very near future, one can envision that all laptops will be tablets with touch screens, whether slates or convertibles with full QWERTY keyboards. Interfacing software applications with one’s finger directly or with a stylus is more intuitive than mouse, cursor and keyboard.
As of recent, Apple’s modus operandi is to strike the mass market as a late-comer, but leap frogging the early innovators with svelte form factors and sophisticated interoperability between hardware and user interfaces. For Apple, this “leap frog” strategy was exceedingly successful in the MP3 player market with the visionary coupling of the now ubiquitous iPod and iTunes software and web-enabled application, and of course in the smart-phone market with the iPhone. Enter the iPad. Granted that the first release of the iPad doesn't support Adobe Flash, but the iPad will drive rapid innovation in field mobility, tablet and touch screen computing, changing the face of personal productivity and consumer technology.
In the world of B2B, and the construction industry in particular, construction professionals are not trading in Blackberries and other smart-phones for iPhones, in the near future. Ditto for iPads. Nor can one foresee construction professionals abandoning the Windows OS and Windows applications… until cloud-computing reaches its critical mass – and it will. However, the tipping point for field mobility, tablet and touch screen computing centers around productivity, both personal and business. Construction professionals will demand and come to expect the same or greater levels of productivity in business as in day-to-day life. In the reverse of a trickledown effect, the consumer market, with its iPad, will continue to drive technological innovation and productivity in the B2B market, for line-of-business applications.
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