Dell slates iPad business potential as Microsoft exec suggests tablet appeal short-lived

If you can't beat 'em, slate 'em. iPad 2 demand remains sky-high, but that hasn't stopped Dell from sniping at the Apple tablet with the suggestion that it had failed – and would continue to fail – to penetrate the enterprise market (and coming up with some spurious figures to try to illustrate that). Meanwhile, Microsoft is casting doubt on whether the tablet segment as a whole is going to stick around at all.

Speaking to CIO Australia, Dell global head of marketing for large enterprises and public organisations, Andy Lark, argued that "open, capable and affordable will win, not closed, high price and proprietary" and suggested that the initial burst of enthusiasm around the iPad was a short-term thing. The tablet's price and the limitations of Apple's ecosystem in working with other enterprise hardware, software and services are his primary criticisms:

"Apple is great if you've got a lot of money and live on an island. It's not so great if you have to exist in a diverse, open, connected enterprise; simple things become quite complex. An iPad with a keyboard, a mouse and a case [means] you'll be at $1500 or $1600; that's double of what you're paying. That's not feasible." Andy Lark, Dell

Still, it's hard to see how Lark's figures add up. Even taking into account the fact he was likely talking in Australian dollars (the iPad 2 begins at AU$579 in Australia) you'd have to be choosing some pretty expensive peripherals to reach $1,500-1,600. Even the top-end, 64GB iPad 2 WiFi + 3G (at $AU949) paired with Apple's Bluetooth keyboard and a leather Smart Cover only comes to less than $1,130.

As for Microsoft, global chief research and strategy officer Craig Mundie has admitted recently that "there's an important distinction – and frankly one we didn't jump on at Microsoft fast enough – between mobile and portable" reports SMH; however, the exec also casts doubts on whether tablets are likely "to remain with us or not."

"Mobile is something that you want to use while you're moving, and portable is something that you move and then use. These are going to bump into one another a little bit and so today you can see tablets and pads and other things that are starting to live in the space in between. Personally I don't know whether that space will be a persistent one or not." Craig Mundie, Microsoft

However, Mundie did not go on to say what exactly he believed would kill off tablets, whether that would be more capable smartphones, lighter and longer-running notebooks, or something else. Microsoft's Windows 7 OS, while found on several tablets in the market, has failed to grab attention or market share away from the iPad.