Thursday, March 24, 2011

Evolution? Even as we all participate!

What’s all this noise about tablet PC’s and why isn’t it dissipating? There’s an evolution under way and it’s playing right into the strength of NonStop … just watch, but not too long, mind you!

“Apple creep” is on within our family, and there’s a change afoot! Today, my wife came home with an iPhone, even though she had been a Blackberry user from the time they first appeared. It was the arrival of the iPad that changed her mind.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to regular readers of this blog of how I have had to share my iPad with my wife, and its usage has become contagious. It changed many of our habits – almost no trip has been taken of late without the passenger resorting to checking directions, hotels, and at this time of year, most importantly, the weather on the iPad!

However, the explosive growth in usage of tablet PC’s, such as the iPad, have begun to shake the foundations of IT and just this week USA Today headlined it’s Money section (March 22, 2011) with the story “Tablets take the PC evolution to next level”. Disturbing, to me at least, the path to tablet PCs is depicted as having started in the 1960’s with mainframes and traced the PC evolution through the early manifestations for hobbyists through to Mac’s, laptops, netbooks and even phones.

“Apple’s innovation engine has done it again. First, it forever changed the music industry. Next, it redefined the mobile phone business. Now it’s doing its number on personal computing.” So wrote the author in USA Today, Scott Martin.

The writer then goes on to add “what’s at stake: the spoils of the PC industry and who gets to redefine the landscape.” It is important for many reasons – remember how only the select few gained access to the server from a PC with an emulator, while the rest of us were left with block-mode terminals? Remember the “productivity gains” touted by all who used a PC? The Tandem world proved to be no exception and as we continue to deploy NonStop servers and rack up Blades in the data center populated with even more NonStop processing power, access from PCs today is a given.

Being first to market is always a significant accomplishment and the news just in from comForte is that they have enhanced their terminal emulation product offerings with support for the iPad and have “successfully tablet-enabled a Pathway screen,” according to Thomas Burg, comForte’s CTO.

Readers may recall how it was only last week that I quoted Thomas as saying “supporting new mobile devices such as the iPad will be a nearly trivial addition to our product set!” It would appear that comForte has delivered on Burg’s earlier observation.

My family is now looking on as Apple’s presence grows – yes, an iPad 2 is going to appear shortly and yes, I will likely transition to an iPhone as well. The spoils of the PC industry USA Today talked about, “is increasingly being driven by consumers’ appetite for portability, battery longevity and a different computer experience. What’s happening is that people are changing their habits as they add tablets to their menu of computing needs.”

Next week comForte will provide me with access to their environment and I will get to try it out on my own iPad! Yes, this evolution of the PC is a consumer-driven phenomena but it’s not going to slow anytime soon.

What none of us should lose sight of is that mobility on this scale is going to open new opportunities for many businesses – perhaps even create completely new businesses – and innovative companies will recognize that the “touch first, always-on, instant-on experience of the iPad,” as USA Today reported, has the potential to return corporate attention to the value proposition we have always given NonStop.

It’s available, 7 X 24 X forever! It’s great to watch evolution playing out around us!


  1. For anyone who is interested in the technical details on what we did for enabling the Pathway application: We used our existing product "JPath Host Agent". It basically translates the 6530 screens into full HTML - so from the iPad perspective it sees a normal Web site.

    The beauty of this approach is that it will work with any mobile device including the new tablets by HP, Samsung etc. who are joining the tablet market.

    For more inforamation on JPath, see

  2. Thanks for the clarification, Thomas - this helps.

    When it comes to other tablet PCs, the forecast isn't all that rosey. From the same USA Today article:

    "reports from technology researcher Forrester say Android-based tablets are poised to fail and lack consumer interest."

    But much worse (and something I addressed in part in the post):

    "Windows is consumers' No 1 preferred operating system for tablets. And yet, Microsoft's partners have failed to deliver a Windows experience on tablets that competes with touch-first, always-on, instant-on experience of the iPad ..."

    The problemt for eveyrone is that iPad has set the standard and continues to push ahead with new and innovative offerings - it will prove difficult to catch them. Not impossible, mind you, just difficult and demand an enormous investment. After all, as the article concluded:

    "You have to use a lighter OS and a mobile processor ... it requires a very big investment in starting over."