Our TechTarget colleague Gina Narcisi reports that Cisco quietly retired its Cius tablet this week, ending the run of what at first looked like a promising, potential challenger to the iPad’s stranglehold on the health care tablet market. It’s lying on the bone pile on top of the Flip Cam, what was a pretty cool chunk of hardware (we still use the HD model to shoot video for SearchHealthIT).
Buried deep in a blog post about “empowering collaboration,” Cisco senior vice president OJ Winge wrote, “…Cisco will no longer invest in the Cisco Cius tablet form factor, and no further enhancements will be made to the current Cius endpoint beyond what’s available today. However, as we evaluate the market further, we will continue to offer Cius in a limited fashion to customers with specific needs or use cases.”
Another iPad competitor, the BlackBerry PlayBook, just celebrated its first birthday as its proud papa, Research in Motion, falls on hard times due to declining market share. In fact, technology uber-analyst Gene Munster unequivocally predicted RIM’s demise on CNBC earlier this year.
Apple, of course, can’t be riding higher, with CEO Tim Cook making all the right moves stepping into the breach after co-founder Steve Jobs passed away last year.
But is that all good for health care? At a recent keynote at the American Telemedicine Association’s annual meeting in San Jose, Calif., surviving Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak asserted that the iPad and iPhone’s closed platform of iOS apps was a major driver for its success, and really was a throwback to Apple’s original philosophy surrounding its early computer systems and exercising tight control over the hardware, software and peripherals “under one umbrella.”
Yet, even The Woz, in a moment of circumspection, questioned how locked-down it should be. “I think it could be a lot looser and still be just as good.”
Competition is good, it drives innovation. Who’s going to keep Apple on its toes and forcing it to come out with better products that work in health care? Does Apple even care about matters of ergonomics and utility in these sometimes literal life-and-death situations? Is it really the best arrangement to have to download enterprise-grade apps through something called the “iTunes store?” It sounds as if the estates of Elvis Presley and Jerry Garcia are running the health care asylum.
It’s time for a new contender to rise up and keep the Cupertino warhorse on its toes. Motorola Xoom, we’re looking at you.