Nexus 10: Three extra inches of BYOD Hell
It’s relentless. Just when my psyche was beginning to recover from the Nexus 7 bombshell, here comes the Nexus 10. A rumored upsized-version of Google’s recently announced reference platform, the Nexus 10 will be to the iPad what the Nexus 7 is to the Kindle: An immediate, existential threat pounding on the gates of Fort Cupertino.
To Apple, the thought of an ultra-cheap (think sub-$300), 10-inch iPad fighter must send chills down CEO Tim Cook’s spine. But to me, the Nexus 10 represents something much worse: Three extra inches of BYOD hell for enterprise IT shops.
You see, with the Nexus 7, IT shops could make a reasonable argument that it’s just a media consumption device, and thus not appropriate for enterprise use. Plus, it’s unlikely that many users would think of using a Nexus 7 as a laptop replacement in a corporate setting. At 7 inches, the screen is simply too small for serious work (though I know Playbook owners who would argue otherwise).
However, with the Nexus 10, users will likely purchase the device as an iPad alternative. And as many IT shops have learned to their dismay, 10 inches is just the right size to inspire all sorts of crazy thoughts in otherwise sane people. Thoughts like, "it’s so thin and light -- do I really need to haul around my company-issued laptop?" Or, "my Nexus 10 is so convenient, I wonder if I can use it to VPN into the home office network?"
And then the fun begins. Now, instead of supporting one consumer-focused tablet platform, you’re forced to support two -- both from equally IT-hostile companies that are more interested in ensuring “buttery smooth” UI transitions than preserving enterprise policies regarding security or data integrity. It’s the perfect storm of BYOD mayhem, and IT management will be lucky to survive with their collective sanities intact.
Fortunately, the Nexus 10 is still only a rumor. With any luck, Google will look around at the carnage wrought by the various failed attempts to dethrone the iPad and realize that it’s just not worth the effort. Or perhaps they’ll concede the 10-inch challenger role to Microsoft and let the Redmond behemoth do the heavy work of cracking the iPad’s tablet hegemony. Google can then swoop in with an even more polished “sweet treat du jour” and exploit the beachhead established by Surface.
In the meantime, IT shops would do well to check their defenses. If your organization has so far managed to resist the iPad BYOD onslaught, then now is the time to reinforce the bulkheads by embracing a more enterprise-friendly alternative, like Windows 8. But if the enemy is already inside the gates, then you’re only solution is to isolate and compartmentalize the invaders with a comprehensive MDM solution. That way you’ll have the tools and experience you need to repel the initial advance and eventually subdue the opposing force within a blanket of strict IT policies and best practices.
No matter how you slice it, a Nexus 10 tablet device is bad news for IT. Here’s hoping that the upsized tablet’s little brother, the Nexus 7, flops big time, and that Google loses their nerve. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves fighting a war on two fronts. In the winter. In Asia. A scenario that rarely turns out well for the protagonists.