Jinfo BlogTablets to make your headache worse

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By Tim Buckley Owen

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It was clearly only a matter of time before tablets started ousting the erstwhile near-ubiquitous PC. But, given the speed with which it seems to be happening, anyone responsible for workplace data security will need to be ready.

Dominant for around 30 years, the PC is at last being seriously challenged, according to a graphic from blogger Horace Dediu of Asymco. While sales of Macs have climbed steadily over the period, narrowing the gap, the rise of the mobile devices – iPhone, Android and latterly iPad – has been meteoric by comparison.

In the case of the iPad the climb is almost vertical, reflecting the fact, perhaps, that people are expecting to be able to do ever more complex things while on the move. Indeed, that observation is borne out by new research from technology analyst NPD In-Stat.

Top uses for tablets tend to be interactive activities like web browsing, email, and downloading and using applications, In-Stat reports. Portable media players may be able to do nearly as much but, with their slightly smaller screens, they’re more likely to be used for entertainment.

Given these findings, it’s pretty much inevitable that the iPad is fast becoming a critical business device. And that is exactly what another piece of new research, from analyst IDG Direct, shows.

In its iPad for Business Survey 2012, IDG finds over half of IT decision-makers saying they “always” use their iPad at work, while most of the rest do so “sometimes” – and almost four fifths “always” use their iPads when on the move. Over half also use them at home, but most of the time that seems to be for work too; fewer than a third say they always use them for entertainment and well under half use them for personal communication.

These are hardened technology users, of course – so what about the rest of us?  Well, if last Christmas is anything to go by, plenty more people now have tablets to play with.

According to yet another survey, from online business specialist eDigitalResearch and United Kingdom retail industry association IMRG, tablet use on Christmas Day and Boxing Day 2011 doubled compared with 2010 as people tried out their new toys. Sure, still fewer than one in 10 consumers currently use tablets as their main means of getting online – but as Asymco’s graphic suggests, that can only grow.

Already, Britain’s official Connecting for Health website has warned health service staff not to use their tablets “out of the box” without decent security technology – and certainly not to store patient data on them (Guardian newspaper coverage here). Where workplace data security is concerned, this kind of tablet is more likely to cause headaches than cure them.

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