Wyse Technology is the latest company to tout the benefits of Apple's new iPad, this time as a client for accessing virtual desktops while on the move..
The iPad has met with a mixed reception from the media and potential buyers alike, but Wyse believes that the tablet device could find another use as a "killer thin client" in organisations deploying virtual desktop infrastructure.
Wyse unveiled a virtual desktop client for Apple's iPhone in 2009 called PocketCloud, and the company is now looking to introduce a version for the iPad that will take advantage of the larger screen size and greater processing power, the company said.
The move is unusual because the iPad would then compete against Wyse's own thin clients, which are custom-built to serve as the console for server-hosted resources such as virtual desktops in a datacentre.
David Angwin, director of marketing for Wyse in EMEA, explained that the company has expanded beyond hardware into software in the past few years, and is addressing how to deliver the right user experience for workers with virtual desktops.
"We have extended beyond thin clients to software clients for the PC and smartphones, and we have sold 10,000 PocketCloud licences to access virtual desktops from the phone since September," he said.
Angwin added that the popularity of the PocketCloud client reflects changes in the way people use devices, and that there is now more crossover between business and consumer products.
"Lots of people who are already using a device like a smartphone for one purpose, if they can access a virtual PC with it, then they get some extra functionality. People want to access services from whatever device they happen to have," he explained.
As an example, Angwin said that many doctors now use iPhones to access medical data and applications securely using PocketCloud, and that the iPad would be a logical progression.
PocketCloud on the iPhone supports Microsoft's RDP protocol and VMware's View 4, and is optimised for this small form factor. It includes a simulated mouse pointer that enables users to easily point and click objects on the remote desktop, Angwin claimed, even on the iPhone's small screen.
Ironically, Wyse introduced a tablet device of its own, the Winterm 3820TX, back in 2003. This did not prove particularly successful, and was eventually discontinued.
"We were a bit ahead of our time with that. The market demand wasn't there," conceded Angwin.
He also conceded that a purpose-built thin client such as Wyse's recently introduced X90cw makes more sense for many customers, with its laptop format and full-size keyboard.
In addition, many of the common protocols come ready installed with purpose built thin clients, and these can also be readily managed in a business environment through the use of tools such as Wyse's Device Manager software.
However, Angwin was undeterred, and that said the iPad could still find a niche.
"We'll have to wait and see how people want to use it. They might want an iPad to carry around and use in meetings, and switch to a PC or desktop thin client when they get back to their desk. The market will decide whether a tablet form factor is one that customers want to adopt," he said.