Dell, Microsoft face uphill battle to unseat Apple from mHealth throne

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The battle between tablet computer manufacturers is heating up in the mobile healthcare market. In the latest salvo, Dell announced yesterday the launch of its new Latitude 10 tablet with enhanced security configuration delivering "more hardware, authentication, data protection, tracking and recovery security features than any other tablet device on the market today."

If the marketing hype coming from the Round Rock, Texas-based company is to be believed, the Latitude 10 will give Apple's iPad a run for its money. Dell hired a third party tester to put its tablet head-to-head with the iPad who found that the Latitude 10 is up to 17 times faster to configure and 94 percent cheaper to deploy than the iPad in large scale enterprise implementations, while completing software updates 99 percent faster, and is 85 percent cheaper per device over a three-year period.  

Dell's foray into the mHealth space is if nothing else gutsy, given Apple's sheer dominance among doctors. Apple started the mobile healthcare revolution with the launch of the iPad, and it remains the product of choice for clinicians. According to an October 2012 report from research firm KLAS, more healthcare providers use Apple than any other device which is fueled by "user preference as physicians bring their own devices into organizations to help them provide patient care."

So it seems Dell might have bitten off more than it can chew when it took on Apple. In addition, the company will be facing competition from another technology behemoth and late comer to the mHealth marketplace, Microsoft's Surface and Surface Pro tablets.

Microsoft recently launched the Surface tablets in the healthcare market, promoting them as enterprise-level devices for clinicians. Working in Microsoft's favor is the fact that two popular EHR vendors, Cerner and Epic, have created interfaces for the Surface and the Windows 8 operating system.

Nevertheless, to say that Dell and Microsoft face an uphill battle versus Apple in gaining mHealth market share is an understatement. The iPad is an entrenched and formidable competitor in the mHealth space. And, with its smaller and lighter cousin--the iPad Mini--released in November 2012 and able to the fit in a lab coat pocket, Apple is just what the doctor ordered. - Greg (@Slabodkin)