By early 2011 the UK market will be awash with Business Tablets giving much needed competition to Apple’s iPAD. There are at least 10 new tablets coming to market, five for the big brands including – BlackBerry Playbook, Cisco Cius, Avaya Flare, Windows 7 Samsung Galaxy and the HP Tablet. This clearly shows that the tablet pc format is here to stay, but how will tablets actually improve business performance and which of the Tablet brands will be a long term success in this space?

BlackBerry has a premium brand when it comes to business and if the initial specification of the BlackBerry Playbook is to be believed then it should be very popular. Sporting a new QNXoperating system that supports Adobe Flash, HTML5, multi-tasking, Unified Communications in the form of integrated video conferencing, integrated 3G and Wi-Fi and full High Definition video; the Playbook looks seriously fit for purpose. The rumours are that there will be 16GB and 32GB models available at launch.

Unified Communications also features heavily in the forthcoming Cisco Cius, powered by the Android operating system it offers users video and multi-party conferencing plus a raft of other business features and Cisco’s brand will also play well within the business space.

Like the Cius, the Avaya Flare also uses the Android operating system and again majors on multi-media and Unified Communications, providing the user with High Definition Video Conferencing, Presence and SIP (voice over IP) Telephony and can even support multiple simultaneous conferences.

As a side note, the Android OS is looking more and more flexible these days with smartphones not the only hardware platform it will excel at and shows that Google surely must launch its own Tablet PC soon – or maybe HDC is busy building one as we speak!

Last but certainly not least is the Windows 7 Tablet PC platform and the plethora of manufacturer devices like the Samsung Galaxy and HP Tablet and at least another 5 manufacturers readying their devices within the next few months.

The fact is that the Windows Tablet devices will have a huge tactical advantage in the business space because of Microsoft Office. Used by virtually all businesses, Microsoft Office is the stickiest software suite in history and will be leveraged extensively by Microsoft and its partners to lure the business user with advantages such as document compatibility and the widest integration into Microsoft’s massive software stack.

Extensive integration with applications such as SharePoint, Lync (Unified Communications), CRM and Exchange will no doubt be included from launch giving the platform a head-start.

However there are also big challenges too – can Microsoft improve the usability and user experience of the Windows 7 OS when used with the touch screen interface – something that has caused the company issues in the past with its older Windows Mobile platform and hopefully addressed in the new Windows Phone soon to be launched. So which Tablet will we all end up with?

Currently it’s anyone’s guess – but my Christmas list just got a little bit longer.