The hybrid market seems to be going through a course correction.
InformationWeek indicated that variations of the Surface 3 were becoming increasingly hard to find on the Microsoft website. That scarcity led to thoughts that the line of hybrids was about to fold, no pun intended. Redmond eventually confirmed that the device, which launched in March 2015, would cease manufacture at the end of the year.
The company also has not announced the next version which, logically, would be the Surface 4. Instead, Microsoft is aiming at the enterprise:
While we could hear more about a new device later this year, there's a chance we won't see an upgrade to the Surface 3 as Microsoft narrows its focus on enterprise customers. In June, the company launched a Surface Membership Plan through which small organizations can upgrade to new models for free and finance their device programs with monthly payments.
The workplace seems to be the best place for hybrid devices. SearchMobileComputing takes a close look at the plusses and minuses of hybrids in the workplace. Devices that use Windows 10 get a bit of the best of both the desktop and mobile worlds. While the market seems to be in flux, it seems certain that the physical attributes of hybrids are very well tailored to work environments. This is particularly true of salespeople and others who are both highly mobile and in need of powerful computing platforms.
If one sector is to be chosen, it is fairly clear that the consumer sector should be deemphasized. It is easy to get caught up in analysis from a reporter’s or analyst’s point of view. It is important to get real-world insight as well. A piece at EMS World suggests how hybrids can be used by first responders as they carry out their vital responsibilities:
When responders arrive on scene, using their device in tablet mode allows for easy capturing, sharing and checking of critical information. During transport to a hospital, they may also need to use video streaming to conference with emergency room doctors. Once the patient transport is completed, in order to finalize their reports, EMS workers need to perform more text-heavy tasks that require a keyboard. Given the variety of locations first responders may be called to on any given day, they can benefit from in-vehicle, tablet and laptop functions.
The line between consumer and vocational tools has been reduced to near transparency. However, it still exists. Hybrids always seemed to be slightly miscast as consumer devices. Their strengths as flexible devices capable, if properly outfitted, of engaging in sophisticated desktop-level computing make the enterprise the most logical place for them. This tendency will become a fait accompli if Microsoft feels the same way.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at email@example.com and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.