For consumers, the announcement of Apple’s iPhone 5 means a device that is 18% thinner and 20% lighter with a larger 4-inch screen, faster 4G wireless technology, and new Siri features including restaurant recommendations and movie listings. But is the new announcement also geared toward the enterprise environment such as construction—at least to some degree?
Apple, www.apple.com, Cupertino, Calif., undoubtedly faces stiff competition from such companies as Samsung when it comes to devices. But Apple might also experience competition from a familiar company eager to nip at its heels—Microsoft, www.microsoft.com, Redmond, Wash.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced a preview of Windows 8—the company’s highly anticipated new operating system that will deliver new options for mobile productivity. According to that preview, Window 8 will run be able to run on tablets that use chips from ARM, www.arm.com, Mountain View. Calif.
For years, Microsoft has been considered the de facto standard when it comes to technology in the construction industry. Beyond staples such as Microsoft Word and Excel, many solution providers have built on top of Microsoft technology, meaning many construction businesses still rely heavily on Windows-based systems.
Enter Apple’s iPhone and iPad. Apple shook up the construction industry with its portable, easy-to-use devices, and wide world of apps. As in other industries, Apple devices quickly became some of the most commonly used in construction. Still, some contractors might struggle as they use one operating system in the field (iOS) and cling to a different operating system in the office (Windows).
In general, Apple tends to blur the lines between consumer-facing features and business-facing features, meaning many of the upgrades on the iPhone 5 and iOS 6 could provide value for both.
For example, the new operating system includes an all-new Maps app with vector-based map elements. The capability will allow turn-by-turn navigation to direct a user to a destination with spoken directions. It also includes a Flyover feature that has photo-realistic interactive 3D views. Realtime traffic information is also available to offer alternative routes if traffic conditions change significantly. For construction companies with mobile employees, a feature such as this allows for safe driving and more efficient routing.
Other new features include additional language support for Siri and a new Passbook app that organizes boarding passes, among other documents, and even sends alerts regarding last minute gate changes or flight delays at the airport. Again the value here extends to both consumers and enterprises.
Whether Apple intends to or not, a number of the features target both consumers and businesses. But with the imminent release of Windows 8 on the horizon, the question remains: Will enterprises still stick to Apple’s devices for business?
Certainly contractors aren’t going to transition to Windows 8 overnight. But as Microsoft looks to offer up its operating system to the mobile worker, construction companies may possibly see the value of moving to a Microsoft environment in the field. It certainly will be interesting to watch it all unfold.