Tablet Rentals Make Sense

Tablet Rentals

Tablet Rentals

Tablet rentals are becoming common; you can find them in every major city. In this article we will talk about the different reasons for renting a tablet instead of buying.

Search online to see some rental options.

Companies are finding at trade shows and business meetings that it can add productivity to rent tablets locally and provide them to everyone at the meeting. You can rent iPads or Android devices, and tablets are so easy to use that everyone is up and running in no time.

Renting tablets also can build morale; people simply like them.

The larger screen makes for more readability than mobile phones; and not everyone travels with a computer. And in Trade-shows or other events where customers are there with you, it can look impressive if your employees are all outfitted with the latest tablets.

What really makes this work, of course, are apps. You can get tablet apps for almost any need that you have. The need for rentals include Conferences, Conventions, Business Travel, Surveys, Inventory tasks, Seasonal Hires, and Training.

There are also tablet ‘kiosks’ that can be rented, and outfitted with relevant apps.

The hotel you are staying at or the conference room provider can help you find the tablet rental options in the local area; and of course, use web search. A good rental place can pre-configure the apps on the tablets such as for trade shows, corporate events and exhibitions.

Rentals also make sense when you need to get a lot of computers in people’s hands for a short period of time. Some rental places will rent 1,000 units or more, and you get a discount for larger number of rentals. And when you rent you can get the latest models, with enough memory for your need.

If your need is short term then you will save a lot of money renting, rather than buying or leasing. You can rent tablets for $40/day, or even less. If you need tablets in a work environment instead of an office environment, there are even rentals of ‘Rugged’ tablets.

Another great use for rental is trying out a different size, or OS. If you company is all-Android but you want to see how an iPad compares, in your work environment, then don’t just read about them; rent one and see!

Tablet Trade-In Programs

There are a number of trade in programs online, where you get a credit for your old tablet. Most people who trade in their older tablet want to get a new model. Its a good idea to trade in your tablet while it is still new enough to have some value; and just remember you are helping others!

Amazon
for example has a trade-in program. Amazon pays your shipping to send in the old tablet, and you get your credit in the form of an Amazon gift card. You can use it for a new tablet, or anything else on Amazon.com. The one restriction to keep in mind is that Amazon accepts only certain items; so you first check if your tablet is one that they will accept in the program. Amazon also has an app (iOS, Android) so you can do the trade-in process using the same mobile device you want to trade in!

Some other tablet trade-in programs include:

GameStop
Gazelle
Walmart

… and others – just ask your favorite retailer!

You can also donate your old tablet, or any older technology. Someone who has never had a tablet would be very happy to have an older unit, and depending on where you donate, you might be able to get a tax deduction.

In the future, we will be developing a website dedicated to tablet trade-ins, and phone (mobile) trade-ins. If you know of good trade-in programs, please contact us.

Tablet Platforms

There are many kinds of tablets, including the Apple iPad, Android Tablets, Ubuntu tablets, and Windows Tablets. In fact, there are over 100 manufacturers of Android tablets alone. While the number of models is huge, the variety is not as much as you might think. Read a number of reviews before you make your buying decision. We are recommending that people stick with brands that have the a complete platform (phone, tablet, and computers); the lesser brands that are not able to offer a complete platform may have other limitations as well.

What are the different tablet platforms?

Apple iPad – This is the highest quality tablet. Apple seems to keep raising bar, year in and year out. You cannot go wrong with an iPad. The iPad provides a higher-quality experience than any other platform. And, in terms of platform, Apple provides the most cohesive, consistent platform.

Android – Android has the highest unit sales, and has some of the least expensive devices. However, many of the android tablets have mixed quality and should be avoided. Samsung, LG, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, Sony, and Toshiba all make very good android tablets. You want to buy a tablet that you will really use and enjoy, with a high quality, responsive touchscreen.

Ubuntu – Ubuntu does not yet have as many models as the other platforms but Ubuntu is the only platform that is close to Apple in terms of overall consistency and ease of use. Ubuntu is based on Linux. Ubuntu devices in general are faster than other platforms because the operating system is more efficient. If you are not familiar with Ubuntu devices, check them out, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Windows Surface – Windows was late to the game with Surface, but it is a nice tablet. The newer models are getting better, with longer battery life. Windows 8 has a “learning curve”, which is rather strange given that tablets are supposed to be eaiser, not harder. For a Windows/Work experience, Surface is worth considering. Otherwise, you are better off with an iPad or a nice Android tablet.

Other Tablets – There are a number of other tablets on the market. Amazon makes the Kindle, a closed system that is possibly good if you are a very frequent Amazon user; otherwise we do not see the point of buying a Kindle. Barnes & Noble makes the Nook, which did not run native Android apps when it first came out and is not really relevant in the market. Samsung is toying with the idea of its own OS, a successor to Android called Tizen, and we don’t see the point of that either. Blackberry had a tablet but there is not reason to buy this device; Blackberry is not bringing out successors to it, and in general (based on their former CEO’s statements about tablets) does not understand the use of tablets in the marketplace.

The HTC One, and My HTC Dilemma

*** UPDATE 9/17/13 *** I ended up buying a Samsung Galaxy SIII phone to replace my HTC MyTouch, instead of getting the HTC One. I decided to switch to Samsung, after having so many problems with the HTC. And what a difference it has made! The SIII is an amazing phone. Its not just that its newer… the thing actually works. I can play voicemail again, buttons all respond, the keyboard is not constantly pausing and mistyping… its like night and day. If all Samsung products are like this, I am going to stick with Samsung! I also got the SIII because, when we replace our Nook tablet, I will get a Samsung tablet – and hopefully, they will work well together.

==================

The HTC One is called, by some, the best smartphone in the world. And I like good sound. Should I get the HTC One?

How do you decide?

I am about to buy a new phone, and a new tablet, and that complicates the decision. I have been using an HTC MyTouch (Tmobile) phone for a couple years now, and have been unhappy. Its not a good phone. In our household we also have a tablet, the Nook HD+. We got the Nook originally because of the HD screen, and it is a very good clear screen. So my phone and tablet do not match; they are not from the same platform – not by manufacturer, and not even by version of OS. Our tablet is important to us so this post, about my next phone, must include considerations about our tablet.

Going forward, I want devices that are fully compatible. And I want devices that work.

The tablet ran its own version of Android when we first got it, and so we could not use the Google Play store. Apparently that is now ‘fixed’ by Barnes&Noble, but we don’t use the Nook anymore in its native OS – we had bought a sim card with a more recent version of Android, so we boot off the sim card. We have full access to Google Play and a ‘normal’ Android experience. This has some pro’s and con’s, including that these two ways of booting do not share the same memory space, so all the apps like games are separate; if you get far in a game, you cannot boot into the other OS and continue at the same level. Booting off of a sim is not always reliable either. And the Nook in its native mode also has some quirks.

Now, one of the themes of our website, TabletApps.com, is that platforms matter. Why should users struggle? We have struggled, with a lousy phone, and partly since tablets are new and exciting, but what is the point really?

My HTC phone freezes up. I cannot access any voice mail either; I called for support, they worked through it and the ‘solution’ they came up with was to delete all the voice mails to start it over. For awhile that worked but then it went right back to she same problem. A phone with no voice mail is not good. There are other problems too. When I am typing, in landscape, it freezes up and I cannot type anymore until I rotate it 90 degrees, then I can type. The phone boots VERY slowly, sometimes taking several minutes. I have the AVG antivirus on it, I do not download very many apps, and never do any ‘questionable’ websites. i am a relatively light user when it comes to downloads of any kind. Therefore, this phone should run clean and fast – but it does not. So it makes me lose confidence in HTC.

My dilemma is made worse by the fact that I am very much an audio person, I like good sound. The HTC One phone has dual, front-facing speakers which seems like a good idea. I have heard it, and the sound is better than my phone. I personally don’t care if the phone is ‘all metal’ or not. I just want something that works.

Can I have confidence in HTC, after owning an HTC phone that is crappy? Plus HTC has no tablet selection to speak of – when I replace our Nook tablet, if I buy an HTC will I be happy? The lack of choice is concerning. What if the HTC tablet is also crappy? In a perfect world, my phone and tablet would each have great sound, run the same version of Android and run the same apps. That is where the market is heading, for the manufacturers who understand what users want.

A better choice for me is probably all Samsung, or even make the change to Apple. I have never owned an Apple device but they seem very stable, and that is becoming more and more important to me. I have not decided yet, but there are some great deals on the Samsung Galaxy III phone, and its almost as good at the newer model, the IV.

Email me if you have any thoughts on my “HTC Dilemma”. I am curious how people feel about the idea of buying all your devices from one manufacturer, to improve the odds of having quality, consistency, and compatibility.

The Windows Platform is Now Stronger: Microsoft Buys Nokia

We have mentioned in other posts, that we are fans of Microsoft products. The Nokia acquisition looks like a win for Microsoft; they are adding to the momentum of Windows phone. Anything that they can do to increase that momentum, they should do – and do with vigor. This purchase makes the base stronger for Windows phone and is another step in the right direction for the Windows Platform.

However, the Nokia purchase does not solve certain app issues that Microsoft still needs to deal with. The Nokia deal does not threaten Samsung in any way. The only way for Microsoft to truly make headway against Samsung, is to solve the app issues. These issues go beyond just the number of apps; no one has truly solved the problem of helping users optimize their devices. App discovery is just too hard; and tablets, in particular, are not optimized.

Nokia is the number one seller of Windows phones, so this ensures that will Nokia’s success will continue and hopefully grow. Other device makers can continue to make Windows phones – just like in the old days when IBM made a desktop computers, but other companies did also.

If you are interested in a Windows phone, click here.

Microsoft needs to have one brand and a consistent user interface experience, across all devices. That is what it means to be a platform. By controlling the phone’s UI, Microsoft moves closer to that goal. The ultimate realization of this are about apps – having apps that a user can run across all his devices is so important. Ubuntu might be the most polished so far in this regard. Microsoft needs to do more in terms of the app discovery process for users, and for a consistent UI.

Nokia still sells more feature phones than Windows smartphones, so it would behoove microsoft to bring out better software and apps for feature phones. There are browsers now that allow a feature phone to do facebook and other web functions, by making extensive use of texting as a background process. If Microsoft got behind that kind of software, it would be huge for them; so once again, its about apps.

The deal still has to be approved by Nokia shareholders.

It is estimated that before the deal, Microsoft earned $10 per Windows phone sold; but with Nokia in the fold, Microsoft will earn an estimated $40 per phone. That is a huge increase. Remember, reliable profit is all about margins; Apple has the highest margins in the industry. It is a much more precarious position to have small margins (like the 5% or so average margin on desktop pc’s); any downturn in a market hurts the small-margin companies much more.

The Nokia purchase is a form of insurance. It ensures the Windows phone brand will continue, even if all other manufacturers drop out. So its a smart move on Microsoft’s part.

What Microsoft has not yet fully solved is what I call the app discovery problem; people want and need to optimize their devices. We need better app discovery tools, especially on tablets. This is an opportunity of enormous size – and if Microsoft solved it, then it would fuel sales of their mobile devices (both phones, and tablets).

Is There a Need Anymore for Independent Device Makers?

With “Platform” hardware so good now, do we need HTC, Blackberry, and other small company devices anymore?

Before platforms became so important, any company could make a laptop or even a phone, and they might attract users. All they needed was one interesting hardware feature, or some slick marketing.

But the rise of apps and the related importance of “platfrom”, has changed all that. Hardware is so good now, users do not need to be as concerned about spec’s; what matters now are apps. Ideally you want all your devices to not only work well, but to work together seamlessly. And that is largely based no apps and how apps interact.

Everyone wants apps!

We are recommending that owners of Blackberry, HTC, and other smaller device makers sell their phones now, while they still have some value.

Get your cash out and do the phone upgrade to get a late model phone from one of the full-platform companies; and so on. When you commit to a platform you can have confidence that your favorite apps should run on all your devices: phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. But if you buy a device from one of the smaller manufacturers, they don’t offer all the elements of a platform. HTC for example does not have a full selection of laptops and tablets.

Imagine you run a sales team, and are in a meeting trying to land a big contract. You are going up against one other sales team. The people on your team have various phones and tablets, with no platform focus (and some of the devices not even running the latest OS). The other sales team are running all devices from one manufacturer, working together seamlessly, and some of their apps are more recent than yours. They have a competitive advantage in the meeting… and they win the contract. Not good.

Obviously, Apple and Android are the two best platforms. They are best both in terms of the number of apps; in terms of sales; and in terms of the extensive platform of devices and services. Samsung is starting to ‘represent’ Android, in effect; and Samsung has phones, laptops, and tablets. If Samsung could improve the process of ‘app discovery’, then Samsung could become an actual platform.

The question thus needs to be asked: do we even need independent device makers anymore? Why do we need an HTC, or a Blackberry? The market is basically answering that question for us, as these companies falter and their sales/profit declines. You have to wonder what is going on in their decision process when no true platform is emerging. My current phone is an HTC, and it is not a good phone at all. I have been very disappointed in it. My previous phone was a Blackberry, which I liked a lot. I remember thinking, when I first got it, how cool Blackberry would be as it evolved – but Blackberry has made mistake after mistake, and has no platform. Blackberry gave up on tablets, which makes no sense at all. Blackberry apps are good, their app ecosystem is well managed – but the apps just do not have enough choice in hardware, like a variety of tablets.

Our advice: if you own a Blackberry phone, the best thing you can do is sell it right now, or trade it in – while it still has some value.

Even the very large players, like HP, are in effect an ‘independent device maker’, if they do not have a true, full-range platform. HP has no phones and almost no tablets. This fact strongly suggests that HP is out of touch with what users want, and the dynamics in the mobile industry. Its very disappointing for me personally, as I have bought tons of HP products in the past. But I no longer buy HP products. Companies need ‘agile thinking’, and need to be open to new ideas.

Non-platform companies like HP can exist by selling at the low end, but this puts them at great risk; the margins are so small that any downturn in the market will affect them the most. In our new world, a company that is very adept at hardware engineering can still be relegated to the low end price tiers, if their overall strategy is flawed – or not agile.

Therefore, my next phone will be a Samsung, because I feel their strong and broad platform means I will have better options, a better device, and a more consistent app experience across all devices.

My laptop runs Windows 8, and I like Microsoft a lot. But right now its very frustrating. Many of the tasks I need to do take more time under Windows 8, than they did under Windows 7. I don’t understand that. The whole point of a new OS is that it should be better than the old one. You have to wonder, how can Microsoft say they did user testing when there are so many issues and problems with Windows 8? There are articles online, over and over and over about issues with Windows 8. Either Microsoft is not listening to testing feedback, and not listening to users in general – or Microsoft has lost touch with what people really want.

Nevertheless, I am still a Microsoft fan. I think Microsoft has the potential to get back in the game. They need to listen to users before their own ‘corporate ego’, and they need to focus on APPS. If they were to tweak Windows 8 the right way, end Windows RT, bring out cheaper tablets, and become the premier platform for apps, then Microsoft can be in the top three and possibly even get back to number one. But Microsoft has to be realistic, they cannot rely on past accomlishements; they have to do everything possible in apps, to get back in the game.

So in summary, I think people cannot go wrong with Apple or Samsung; the independents like HTC and Blackberry do not seem needed anymore; and Microsoft still has huge potential. If Microsoft can start actually listening to users, and if they focus on apps, they will be very effective.

The Promise That Was Blackberry

Is it time to sell your Blackberry phone?

There was a time when Blackberry was cool. Owning a Blackberry phone was fun, and people noticed. You felt like Blackberry not only did what you needed, but was a company that you could stick with, and upgrade with confidence.

Those times are gone.

People say that Blackberry was slow to recognize the smartphone revolution, and thus they had to play catch-up. But from our view, they continue to make the same mistake. Because now we are in the “tablet revolution”, which is an extension and natural evolution of the mobile model – yet Blackberry shows almost no commitment to tablets at all! They are, once again, missing the big opportunities. Their CEO has even publicly said (in April 2013) that he thought tablets would go away within 5 years, and that “Tablets themselves are not a good business model.” Its hard to understand how anyone could say that, let alone the CEO of a mobile company.

They are not a good business model if you have only one. People want to see a variety of sizes, and capabilities. They are not a good business model if you don’t have a deep commitment to apps that are designed for tablets.

By making the same mistake again, it seems clear that there is not much point to Blackberry anymore. I would even say that Blackberry appears to be a software company now – they just don’t know it yet.

I would have really liked it if Blackberry, early on, had shown a major commitment to securing any mobile device in the enterprise, with security app suites for Android and iPhone; if they had brought out dual-boot devices (Android and their own OS, and Windows and their own OS); if they had a series of tablets in various sizes so business could have a full Blackberry platform to work with; and in general if they could respond to new trends quickly. But all those hopes are dashed.

It seems clear that their plan was only short term: build up some handset sales and hope for a miracle sale of the company.

My current phone is an HTC Android phone. Its not very good, full of quirks and broken features; I am unlikely to buy an HTC again. In contrast, my previous phone was a Blackberry, and it was a fun and very reliable little device. I liked it a lot and have kept it just for the nice memory. But its like a little baby dinosaur now. Its amazing to reflect on how much good will Blackberry squandered.

Realistically you don’t need your Blackberry even for messaging; messaging is just an app now anyway. Just like in maps – Nokia has great map tech but for most users, maps are just another app. What we are recommending is that anyone with a Blackberry device sell it now, while it still has some value. Then, get an iPhone or a good Android phone like one of the Samsung Galaxy Phones. With either Apple or Samsung, you have a full platform of devices to work with (phone, tablet, and laptop) with all the advantages that come with a platform. Ubuntu is quite interesting, and might have the most consistent experience across all devices (even more than Apple!) but Ubuntu has fewer apps. I am still a fan of Windows but Windows 8 has some frustrating (and odd) flaws, Windows RT is strange, and in general Windows is not yet a consistent platfrom across all devices. I think Windows will get there eventually, they just seem to have chosen an unnecessarily difficult path.

In summary, “The Promise that was Blackberry” is gone forever.

Improving App Discovery: the Next Big Opportunity in Tablets

We believe in tablets.

Tablets are important, and people and markets are embracing them. But the sheer number of apps has created a problem for users: its too hard to find the best apps. How can each person bring their tablet to its full potential? No one has solved this, but we know the answer; it involves elegance, simplicity, and new kinds of curation.

A new form factor.

Tablets are changing the world. A new form factor that is easier to use, takes up less space, is carried more easily, fits more easily into a briefcase, and is just a lot of fun. The ease of handling make it ideal for use by salesman, in hospitals, on the shop floor, by students, in the home, for entertainment, and in businesses. It is with tablets that software can reach its true potential. But many companies are falling behind; they do not understand mobile, and the rapid changes that are happening. Tablets are elegant; now we need app discovery to become more elegant.

Tablets matter.

Apple and Samsung “get it”. Most companies do not, and likely will fail or be acquired. HP struggles, Blackberry struggles, HTC and others all struggle and in every case, have no tablet lineup. These ‘independent device makers’ are not adapting quickly enough. The phrase ‘independent device makers’ refers to manufacturers who do not have a real platform. Clearly, “One tablet does not a Platformm make” – and you can quote us on that.

Platforms matter.

Many companies not only do not have a strong tablet portfolio, they do not have a true Platform of any kind. People like to see computers, tablets, and phones all from one company. So people are choosing Apple and Samsung for many of their purchases now. It is surprising (but completely understandable) that close to 100% of industry profits all go to just Apple and Samsung! Profits follow the growth areas. Apple has the strongest platform with the clearest message; Ubuntu is compelling and quite interesting but not as well known and has fewer apps; and Samsung now basically ‘represents’ what is best about Android. If Samsung were to have a more visible role in Apps, even to the point of leading and owning the space, then Samsung would have a true platform as well. Someone has to make app discovery simpler, more elegant, and better curation.

The App Discovery problem.

Almost everyone enjoys having a tablet in their hands. And the one thing they all want, are Apps! Of course, the companies without platforms are also weak in app offerings. In fact, the sheer number of apps has created a new problem: its too hard to find the best ones; how can users choose? How can a person make their tablet work to its full potential? What is needed is a more elegant, and simpler way to find apps Finding apps is called ‘app discovery’. The answer lies in ‘curation’. Curation is a form of review where the best apps and revealed; similar to curation in an art gallery. By showing which apps are best, you help users in a very important way. But it only works if the curation is honest; it cannot be tied to advertising.

Curation Matters.

If curation is important, what about someone who needs a whole set or ‘package’ of apps, to make their tablet fully productive, for their specialty? A salesman for example will want email, calendar, expense report, todo list, maps and route planning, presentation software, research software, and more – but you also want all of those apps to work together seamlessly. So what we are saying is, the market someone to provide “Curated Apps Packages”.

Apps, the new Platform.

Therefore, if someone were to do these three things (simpler app discovery, better App Curation, and fully Curated Apps Packages), this could very well be considered a new kind of platform. We call it the “Apps Platfrom“. The world is waiting for this; the world Needs this. The only question is, who will supply it? Will all the many android players sit back and wait too long, and let Apple once again innovate first? Because that is the pattern in mobile technology until now; most Android companies are not agile. In fact we believe that only Apple (and Samsung) truly understands the importance of apps. That deep understanding is why Apple leads everyone in profit-per-device, and profit in mobile, and why Samsung sells so many devices.

Profit in Apps.

So how to have profit like Apple does? We believe that once android companies understand the need for Curated Apps Packages, then their profits will rise in tablets. The opportunity exists primarily for the first mover. Our URL TabletApps.com, used in this way would be ideal: to give the world a unique Curated Apps Package for each and every profession, making tablets reach their full potential for each and every profession.

Only the Agile survive.

In the old days (say, 5 years ago), it was enough to be good at engineering. But now, Platform matters more. Many companies still do not ‘get it’. A large segment of the population do not look at ‘specs’ first when they buy. It is hard to understand why some major companies are still not fully embracinga tablet strategy. The only explanation seems to be that it is a management issue: slow to respond, slow to adopt new ideas. Even now as these companies start to make tablets you feel how half-hearted their effort is; you really have to wonder what other opportunities they will be missing, due to how slowly they adapt to change. What every company needs now is open mindedness, and something called ‘Agile Management’. Its a style of moving more quickly, that first was pioneered in software development. In software it is called Agile Methodologies. Agile thinking is now a part of every aspect of a successful business – software, hardware, marketing, project management, even planning.

In summary, it is clear that agile companies like Apple and Samsung, with their diverse products and their rapid innovation, will survive. The majority of the independent device makers are likely to fail, but few of them recognize this, even as their struggles get worse each year. Apps are important, and the “Apps Platform” is a possible key to survival.