What Honeycomb and Android Tablets Mean for Businesses

Google is set to announce their first tablet-oriented Android operating system, codenamed Honeycomb. At Box, we’ve been waiting for this moment since we started seeing significant traction with our apps for both the iPad and Android phones, with nearly 400,000 downloads to date. With the introduction of Honeycomb, we’ll begin working immediately on a tablet-centric version of our Box Android app.

How did we get to this point? The mobile market started to get really interesting in 2006 and 2007 with the introduction and sharp growth of the iPhone. Finally, the phone was liberated from slow platforms, horrible browsers, and broken user-experiences...and consumers were delighted. Google then took the model one step further, combining one part open source disruption, one part Microsoft open ecosystem, and one part Apple product excellence to create the Android operating system, and, in turn, produced a fascinating diversity of devices and platforms.

The most revolutionary change of all, however, was the iPad. This device established that the mobile category wasn't limited to smartphones, nor was it defined by sub-optimal netbook experiences. The iPad gave rise to the truly mobile worker. I personally go laptop-less on business trips and bring my iPad to most meetings, and I'm not alone - we're seeing significant adoption of the iPad across businesses of all sizes and industries.

This shift is evident in Box's enterprise customer base. Major pharmaceutical companies are enabling sales teams to access critical data on-the-go. Taylormade's remote sales teams are effortlessly pulling down marketing collateral and product information to present to clients. Dole's auditors no longer have to lug around briefcases full of compliance reports and permits when visiting Pineapple fields. Tablet-enabled business use cases are still emerging, and with the Android tablets we'll discover new work environments and new industries that will be transformed by this computing category.

Which is why we couldn’t be more enthused to have Google go down the tablet path so ambitiously. This tablet-enhanced OS will enable a new and diverse world of applications on an exciting and dynamic platform. Beyond the flashy UI changes, new controls, expanded resolution and form factors, the Android Tablets are going to bring about other big changes in the mobile computing market, including mass proliferation of tablets in the enterprise; here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Cost Reduction: While the cost of iPads and Android tablets today are comparable, the manufacturer competitive dynamic will continue to drive down cost and bring up performance between each development cycle. This is going to put tablets in more customers’ hands.
  • Enterprise IT Support: A more open-ecosystem will mean more robust enterprise support of devices. The simplicity of the iPad’s model is enviable, but you’re always bound by Apple’s development timelines. With Android, market demand will produce all new enterprise security products, enterprise distribution channels, and support models for these devices.
  • Carrier-Agnostic: Google’s approach has been of a much more carrier-neutral strategy since day one, and while there have been some hiccups along the way (Nexus One), I think ultimately consumers have benefited from this. It has certainly enabled people on all networks to have access to the most modern smartphones available. And now this flexibility and democracy will extend to tablets, creating even more ubiquity.
  • Not Microsoft: We simply need more platforms besides Microsoft in businesses. Microsoft helped to standardize what we are all working on, but we consequently lost years of innovation when there were no competitive forces to challenge our friends in Redmond. A plethora of iPads and Android tablets in the enterprise is going to create better customer value and breakthroughs for years to come.

At Box, we’re also very thrilled to be working with such strong partners in the Android world. We jointly announced last month that we’re working with Samsung to deliver a tight Box-Android experience on future Galaxy Tabs. We want to make sure we’re producing the best possible way for businesses and individuals to access, share, and collaborate around content from anywhere. And tablets are quickly becoming one of the most compelling ways to achieve this.

Post by Aaron Levie, co-founder and CEO