Tablet Computing and Church Software
[Today's article is a guest post by Steve Hewitt, editor and publisher of Christian Computing and Christian Video Magazines.]
Just as when church software companies feared the move from DOS to Windows, the time is upon us now when another new phenomenon is clamoring for attention: Tablet computing. With Christian Computing Magazine’s church software (often referred to as church management software or systems ChMS) issue due out in October, it’s important to recognize that more and more people are adopting tablets into their arsenal of technology tools—both personally and professionally.
Nearly all of the church software providers out there are offering a cloud (web-based) version these days. The next step beyond cloud computing is mobile computing. There is an obvious shift in the technology industry from desktop and laptop computers to tablets, whether they run Apple or Android operating systems.
Tablet computing offers its own advantages and perks to mobile computing and it HAS already become the direction we are going when we “compute.”
As I travel across the nation speaking with churches, their message to me is they WANT their ChMS to work specifically on tablets.
I am not going to write a book here about the advantages of tablet computing, or why church software companies need to move to specific apps or cloud ChMS that work for those accessing via tablets, but if you read CCMag, you will be noticing more and more articles that will be pointing all of us in that direction.
Notice Amazon.com just did a major redesign of their website so that it works better for those accessing via tablets.
Walk into a BestBuy and notice the space in their computer departments now given over to a host of new tablets. The iPad of course, but here in Kansas City, (where technology is behind the rest of the country) they are all promoting at least six unique Android tablets.
Think tablet computing is mobile and cool but not a serious data entry machine? Desktop computer sales continue to drop and a substantial percent of mobile computer users state (according to Pew Research) that their mobile device has become their primary Internet connection!
Have you seen the new Toshiba Thrive? It has a full-sized USB and HDMI ports and a mini-USB socket as well as the ability to add SD cards, making it easy to transfer extra files as well as add storage. This tablet is a true tablet, with the ability to download thousands of practical apps that connect computing with accurate user location, touch screen etc, that you expect with tablet computing. BUT, drop it into its docking station, connect a full keyboard and mouse (via USB) and a large monitor (via HDMI) and there is little difference between this tablet and your main computing EXCEPT it runs aps (which is what people want) and not programs (which are dying)
I can provide several studies that say tablets will be bought five times more this year than last, and I can provide several studies that show tablets being bought and used more than notebooks in three years. However, all of those studies are short sighted because they didn’t take into account the large number of very cool tablets that have hit the market in just the last six months. And, now that major retailers have picked them up, marketing, sales and distribution will increase dramatically.
One final note. The iPad is cool, no doubt. They have the best marketing. But just like the Mac vs Windows contest of the last two decades, I think it is obvious that the Android tablets will rule the market. Recently we asked CCMag readers which tablet they would like SINCE we will be giving one away Nov 15th (in a drawing for those registered at our site). The results were 3-1 in favor of an Android tablet over an iPad. I believe this is due to the abilities of tablets like the Thrive AND the fact that you cannot access FLASH on an iPad. Just try to visit SermonSpice or WorshipHouseMedia and check out Christian videos for your next service on an iPad. It can’t be done without using special programs to get around the FLASH issue.
So to wrap it up, tablet computing is going to become the norm, not the exception. Many church software companies out there offer usability via tablets already, and others have developed specialized apps for both iPhone and Android tablet use. If your ministry is already using tablets, I’d love to hear about what you are doing and how your church software is serving you in your ministry through tablet usage.
Steve Hewitt is the founder and editor of Christian Computing Magazine and Christian Video Magazine. He is currently serving as a pastor and enjoys the challenge of serving and writing about technology and the Church.