WiFi-only Tablets: A Case for Native Mobile Apps?

On the heels of my blog the other day on the topic of iPads, tablets and The New Business Laptop comes an interesting report that only 1 out of 10 tablets sold actually have 3G capability.

Courtesy of Chetan Sharma Consulting

A couple of reasons have been put forth for this situation, the first is that tablets with 3G have an additional $100+ added to the price and the second is the need for a second data plan (the assumption is that the buyer has one already to support their smartphone) to support the tablet which is a cost that consumers are not willing to bear at this time.  The new iPad 3 continues this cellular price premium with $499 for the WiFi-only model and $629 for WiFi plus 4G cellular connectivity.
The reason it caught my attention is the impact that this will have on adoption of “The New Business Laptop” in the enterprise.  For a large rollout of iPads or any tablets for that matter, an extra 25% added to the price tag would give any CFO pause.  In addition, the 2GB base data plan can be eaten up watching a couple of HD-presentations.  This issue will be one of the drivers in a firm’s conversation when they begin to build out internal mobile applications. If the tablets deployed internally are WiFi-only (for the above reasons) and the area they are working in has no available WiFi hotspot, it will be necessary to cache the data locally and sync with the corporate network when a connection becomes available. While access to local storage from hybrid mobile apps have improved, native apps still have an edge in this area and it is a consideration as companies begin to firm up their plans to deploy enterprise mobile apps to their employees.  So the conversation may hinge (like a teeter-totter) on the lower cost of a hybrid app (supporting multiple platform from a single codebase, ala PhoneGap) versus the superior capabilities of a native app.

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