Following a lively debate about the merits of Macs versus Windows PCs, John Stokdyk wonders if we might have been asking the wrong question.
Our Mac takes off in accountancy article obviously struck a chord. Apart from members like Nigel Harris who have already pinned their credentials to Apple’s mast, still more accountants came forward to pledge their allegiance to the Mac.
Adrian Pearson did a great service to us all by flagging up the user numbers for the Xerousers.com site, which he admitted would probably have a deeper base of Apple users than AccountingWEB.co.uk. He was right, as these figures illustrate:
Xerousers.com traffic - top operating systems
AccountingWEB traffic, Feb 2012
But look at the numbers again - for both communities 6-7%+ of the total traffic is coming from iPad/iPhone and Android devices. This is perhaps as significant a migration as the movement towards Macs.
AccountingWEB member listerramjet commented: “It strikes me… that one way or another Macs and PCs are the potential dinosaurs and mobile is the future. After all the Mac/PC argument is mostly about how similar functionality is delivered.”
The next version of Windows is being structured to operate across desktop and mobile devices, and if it proves successful, it could spell the end of the traditional Windows PC (and by implication the Mac as well), he argued.
It’s a brazen argument, but the rapidly growing proportion of mobile traffic on the Web means we have to take it seriously. Looking at a website, or entering an order or checking your cash position from a smartphone or tablet is one thing, but would you really be able to run a business?
We’ve been looking at tablets and smartphones on the site recently and my initial reaction after using a Windows smartphone is no, the platform is not ready yet - but as listerramjet suggests, that position could change within the year.
Android, with its hooks into the Google Docs infrastructure shows more promise. The Samsung Galaxy SII I’ve been using this week is still a fraction on the small side to be ergonomically viable, but did allow me to do at least 80% of my work effectively on a test run to London.
And, of course, the device that is casting the biggest shadow over this debate is the iPad. The AccountingWEB community is still struggling to find a viable way to work with spreadsheets and Excel on the iPad, but the device seems to be finding a niche for those with less intense number-crunching requirements.
Is listerramjet right and are we barking up the wrong data processing unit? What are your experiences using tablets for business purposes and how do you think the hardware landscape will pan out within the profession over the next couple of years?