iPad too tough to support, says Dell Australia


blog Fighting words this morning from Joe Kremer, the managing director of Dell Australia, who has had a bit of a spray against Apple’s flagship iPad tablet, alleging that it’s not fit for use in large organisations and that the battle to conquer the tablet market isn’t over yet. Kremer tells the Financial Review newspaper (we recommend you click here for the full article):

“People might be attracted to some of these shiny devices but technology departments can’t afford to support them … I don’t think this race has been run yet.”

Pretty tough fighting words for a company which hasn’t even really launched a tablet in Australia yet, appears to be pinning all of its hopes on Windows 8 (an operating system which hasn’t even been released yet) and is going to enter a tablet market which Apple singlehanded created and already has an almost monopolistic control of, particularly in Australia, where its market share is estimated at north of 80 percent. Remember the $4.88 billion Apple made from Australia last year, and how the company’s Australian revenues are consistently growing 50 percent each year? Yeah. A lot of that was from the iPad.

If you go to Dell Australia’s website and search for tablets, you won’t find much; and what tablet devices the company has launched locally have gone virtually nowhere. The Dell Streak, launched in Australia in late 2010, didn’t exactly set the nation on fire. One can’t help but catch a strong whiff of hubris here … or is that delusion? It’s almost as though the emperor has no clothes.

Image credit: Apple


  1. Support in iOS for mass configuration and compliance of iDevices has been improving with every update. By the time Windows 8 tablets hit the market, it may all be to late.

    • At this point I have zero confidence in Windows 8, either on tablets or on the desktop. I absolutely cannot see any major Australian organisation migrating to Windows 8 any time soon, with its ridiculous UI overhaul, when Windows 7 is so rock solid and all anybody needs, with a UI paradigm everyone understands.

      • Agreed.

        It’s great that Metro brings it to touchscreens, but on a Desktop it’s clunky and it’s still Win7 underneath.

        It’ll get them into the consumer tablet/hybid laptop market, which I think is good. But it has NO real benefit for business, IMO.

        • Actually it’s not win 7 underneath, I remember reading a MS blog post somewhere saying the desktop and metro run side-by-side similar to how MS-DOS and the desktop ran side-by-side in win 98 days.

          …now if I could only find that post again.

          • No no, sorry Karl, I didn’t mean the layers were both Win 7. I meant, if you use the desktop, which, for the short-medium term, will be where most people go, cause let’s face it, there’s no metro app for Adobe Photoshop….

            It’s just Win 7 with a nice skin. I know metro runs concurrently and in isolation if you like and so that’s part of the reason you can have metro on one screen and the desktop on another. But the majority of people will use the desktop regularly. And THAT is just win 7….without a start button.

            It’s a good transition. But there’s no real benefit, yet, for business, who’ve only just widely started adopted win 7

          • “…similar to how MS-DOS and the desktop ran side-by-side in win 98 days.”

            Actually, I don’t know that’s right. I’m sure Win98 was just a layer ON TOP of MS-DOS. I’m almost positive in fact. That’s why you could boot out by going shutdown windows and you could end up at the prompt.

            It wasn’t until Win2000 that the Kernel of Windows was the base and MS-DOS was just emulated inside windows as 16 bit. Now of course, command prompt is just a glorified terminal….

          • “Explorer and the Windows 9x runtime actually relied on DOS in some ways.”

            I think this is the main idea. You could not have run Win98 without the Shell. But, equally, the shell couldn’t run without DOS. That is no longer the case.

            The Shell is a…..damn, can’t think of the word. It’s a basic OS for the hardware, as WELL as a shell for apps to run in now in win 7 and 8. I know what I mean, but I can’t think of the word. Native OS is close, but not right.

  2. What a load of rubbish.

    This guy is quite obviously cringing at the thought of getting into an Apple dominated market.

    Aren’t for business??? Tell that to the hundreds of THOUSANDS of Australian business men and women who use them as part of their day to day workings….

    I don’t like the iPad, but there’s no denying it has useful and easily converted business applications. And most decent businesses understand this and accept they will have to accommodate this.

        • Oh definitely Shannon. I’m not saying they’re inherently easy to support, just because they’re iPad’s and ubiquitous. Far from it. But to say businesses AREN’T supporting them is just rubbish.

          They are. Whether they like it or not is a different question.

          • to say that business are not supporting them is not quite correct either. i know of at least 3 major local government councils that will not use them because of the support issues that arise.

          • Sure Shannon. Some businesses choose not to support them. But alot do. He’s making a blanket statement though, to try and show his (currently weak) offering is better. That’s not correct.

          • Most of the support issues don’t have to do with how difficult the support is (it’s not) but more in line with intractable entrenched IT departments that think that introducing a mobile platform they have to support adds a whole new paradigm to their environment.

            And they’re right, it does. However Apple’s platform and specifically it’s locked in nature, works for the IT department in this case, Employer issued Apple devices can be easily managed, application support can be troublesome, but that all depends on what iOS apps you’re publishing to these devices. It’s up to IT to review them before supporting them, on an app by app basis (including their developer support), not a whole of platform basis, exactly like centrally managed applications deployed through Microsoft’s SCCM today.

          • That isn’t the issue. The issue is the that Apple do sweet FA to assist business.
            The Ipad and iOS was designed from the ground up as a consumer electronic device.
            Early in the peice their “enterprise” support for the iOS consisted of a 20 something page document and and an application that generated a file that you had to manually load onto the phone it didn’t even address the issues of how to effectively back up the device short of full iTunes deployment and apple aren’t much help here either. 3rd party Apps have come along to fill the void but the void shouldn’t have been their in the first place. I’m also yet to find an application that is any good for accessing share-point calenders.

            SMEs switched from Blackberry to iphone in droves but in the process they lost control of the handset and while users like them they are trickier to deploy. Blackberry had it’s faults in the SME market (BES express was a resource hog and would bring SBS servers common in this market to their knees) but send a new phone out to a user and telling them to enter a pin number is a lot better than trying to get a user to download a specific app and/or enter exchange server credentials.

            Apple may have blown up the tablet market but I know plenty of business people who are looking to trade in their iPads for easier access to their data that often exist on Microsoft platforms and at this stage are almost guaranteed not to exist on an Apple platform.

          • “That isn’t the issue. The issue is the that Apple do sweet FA to assist business.”

            That’s right, they don’t. But that’s what you need a MDM solution for. Apple don’t provide a badged Apple MDM solution, however they have provided iOS with the ability to connect to one. There are a number out on the market, but the ones I’ve mentioned I’ve both seen and used (we have SOTI in our environment) that makes managing these devices a snap.

            That’s what I meant about organisations committing to the mobile device platform. You don’t just buy mobile devices and expect them to work on your existing infrastructure. You have to make sure your certifciate services are running correctly, in the case of iOS, you need to make sure you purchase your Apple developer certificate, and that you purchase a Mobile Device Management product from any vendor out there that has one .

            None of these services are particularly difficult to set up, although it’s a bit of a learning curve at the start to do so, but it’s absolutely workable.

            Backing up the devices is the responsibility of the user (as Apple have stated, they’re strictly a consumer device) but a customised iTunes deployment in the enterprise isn’t difficult either (our packaging team pooh poohed it until they actually went and looked up how to do it and apologised to me later).

            Getting users to take responsibility for their iOS devices, such as backups, comes with the territory. As I stated, it’s not perfect, but it’s perfectly workable.

            “but send a new phone out to a user and telling them to enter a pin number is a lot better than trying to get a user to download a specific app and/or enter exchange server credentials.”

            See this example? Even without an MDM installation, all you need is to configure a mobile profile on the Apple device (it’s single file upload) in order to configure iOS for whatever you like. With an MDM solution, you can even do it wirelessly. I’m not trying to state that it’s “better” than Blackberry. The Blackberry platform is certainly more mature than iOS, but let’s be honest … and as evidenced by market share …. iOS devices are far more numerous than Blackberrys. People go with what they’re comfortable with. It used to be that Blackberry was the only game in town. That’s not the case any more.

            “Apple may have blown up the tablet market but I know plenty of business people who are looking to trade in their iPads for easier access to their data that often exist on Microsoft platforms and at this stage are almost guaranteed not to exist on an Apple platform.”

            And for this, I’d point you to specific technologies such as Citrix XenApp and it’s corresponding Access Gateway to use on iPad’s and iPhones. As long as you get your configuration solid, you can even run full Windows desktops on your iOS devices. Why you would on iPhone is questionable I admit, but it’s very handy on an to publish a desktop remotely to an iPad (we have our current Citrix full desktops published to all devices this way).

            But as I’ve stated before, all this requires that the enterprise actually COMMITS to the mobile device platform by giving their IT team the tools they need. In my experience, most companies try to tack on the device as a “nice to have”, without realising exactly what they’re asking for. As long as they commit to the platform and the appropriate tools are purchased depending on exactly what you want to do with your mobile devices …. it’s quite managable.

  3. I am fed up with the whole Apple/Microsoft divisions in IT. Why does one have to overwhelmingly be better. You get the device that suits your business needs. I’m sorry Dell, but if that’s Apple’s iPad platform, then chill out, you lost this one. Remember Dell, IT fits the business need, not the other way round (a lot of people forget that in their determination for their solution to fit all scenarios, a rather one eyed view IMO).

    iOS devices in the last couple of OS iterations have really stepped up to the plate in regards to corporate deployment. As long as you have a Mobile Device Management solution like SOTI or MobileIron, it works a treat. You can mobile wipe and deploy apps to it securely as long as your IT team pulls their finger out and learns about the little nugget often ignored in (especially Windows) environments, digital certificate services.

    I’m not particular fan of any camp, Apple, Microsoft, Linux or any other flavour of OS, and yes, I was initially skeptical of the iOS platform in a corporate environment until I was asked to perform a review of it for an executive briefing back in February last year. I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong on many different levels.

    It wasn’t perfect (and still isn’t) but it’s not difficult to work with as long as the organisation commits to a mobile management solution in order to corporatise your iOS devices. Expecting someone to rock up with their iPhone and ask “Hey, can I just connect this to the network?” and expect it to work flawlessly is laughable, but as I found out, getting it to work isn’t as painful, What was painful, was trying to drum people’s particular ideologies out of their heads that blinded them to the use cases we had for it.

  4. One of the ways Dell make money is by selling servers and laptops to enterprises. Those sites have a culture of totally locking down the machine’s configuration to lower support costs and to keep availability high.

    Unfortunately the retailers of such equipment then get the notion that this is the only way which computing can be done. We’ve seen this before with mainframe vendors talking about PCs.

    Apple are well aware of the need for more centralised control of iPads. And there’s an app for that :-)

  5. As if anyone from Dell has any right to criticize ANY other company for the quality of their tech.

  6. Apparently Mr. Kremer has never tried to support the utter pieces of garbage his own company sells.

  7. Dell may not offer an alternative product, but does that stop them being able to comment on the current market leader?

    The iPad is not designed as a secure, network- and organisation-ready device. It just doesn’t have the security or the vendor (Apple) support for operating well in a business environment.

    Does Dell have anything better? No. Does Android have anything better? No. Does RIM have? Well actually, yes. The Blackberry placed itself first and foremost as a business tool, and has the features business needs. What about Windows? Wait and see, but Windows 8 should have the required business-friendly functionality.

    And that’s all Dell is saying.

    • “The iPad is not designed as a secure, network- and organisation-ready device. It just doesn’t have the security or the vendor (Apple) support for operating well in a business environment.”

      Stephen, this sentence is partially incorrect. The iPad wasn’t designed as an organisation ready device, that much is true. Apple have always been upfront that it is a consumer device first. Nor does it have any support from Apple in a business environment.

      However the security comment is incorrect. The iPad as a device is as secure as it can be. Yes it can be jailbroken, but any MDM solutioin worth it’s salt detects this. There are options to quarantine the device or remote wipe it, and a remote wipe cannot be reversed (even if the device is switched off, the remote wipe continues at power on).

      Where the iPad falls down with security, is that it doesn’t have a local logon, as in, if you’re holding it in your hand, then you are considered the user. It’s here where your corporate security policy takes over and corporate users of iPads are made responsible for the security of their devices, just like corporate issued mobile phones before smartphones came along.

      A robust application review process (you don’t just allow anyone to download any app they like to the device) and direct developer support (as in, not Apple, you contact the developers of the iOS apps themselves for support) means Apple is not the middle man. Essentially, if there’s a problem with your app, and your iOS device isn’t jailbroken, it’s not Apple’s problem (and fair enough too). Contact the developer. Developer support is the IT team’s responsibility before the app ever gets loaded onto the device.

      If you’ve got the appropriate business security policies already in place (every corporate environment should have one these days), and the appropriate tools as I’ve mentioned above, it’s quite secure. It’s considered secure enough for Australia’s DSD to use it, which is more than enough for most companies. Check out their security advice here:


      And their hardening guide here:


      • Sorry, just to clarify my comment of:

        “Where the iPad falls down with security, is that it doesn’t have a local logon, as in, if you’re holding it in your hand, then you are considered the user.”

        You can configure a PIN, or alphanumeric password lock on your device, but that functionality is dependent on the individual organisations password policy. You do have options here, but the scenario that was given to me was this:

        “If an executive user is sitting on the train, with the device unlocked, and someone grabs the device off him, can they send and receive emails as that user?”

        To which my response was:

        “Yes, absolutely. However I would expect that user to communicate with their IT support team as soon as possible to trigger a remote wipe of the device in order to preserve security.”

        There’s a bit of a double standard in organisations when it specifically comes to the tablet platform. They’ll happily issue mobile phones to users, taking the same risks they would for tablets (bag snatching, misplaced/lost devices) but they get all paranoid when it comes to tablets. I would imagine this has something to do with more corporate data available on that platform, but simply having more corporate data available doesn’t mean you can’t use the same mechanisms that already exist to protect it.

        If you’re requirements are to protect the data at all costs (as in, keep it off the device) then the best way is to utilise a virtual application technology such as Citrix XenApp where the apps themselves (as wellas the data) never make it to the mobile device, are running in the data centre and still require the user’s corporate username and password.

        This highlights my main point in several of my posts here, if an organisation is serious about protecting their data on mobile devices, the organisation will COMMIT to a platform of device management infrastructure, that is, to a security policy for users to sign and device configuration and management tools to be purchased. The good news, business wise, is that if the organisation already has a mobile phone policy, you don’t need to make too many modifications to it in order to leverage it for tablets/smartphones.

Comments are closed.