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Apple’s iPad…just where does it fit in the Enterprise?

by Andrew Brown | Jan 27, 2010

The announcement is not yet cold, but already opinion is polarizing surrounding Apple’s new iPad. The product will appear in 60 days with WiFi and in 90 days unlocked with AT&T data plan for $629 and $29/month. Moreover, the inevitable debate around the device’s suitability and fit for the enterprise market is already heating up.

Some are making the assumption that the iPad will slot it’s way into business via users and be welcomed with open arms. Others will say that it will be shunned outright like other tablet products and will face the same fate as Apple’s sub 5% global market share in the PC market.

So let’s look at a few ways enterprises are going to change in the future:

  • Over the next few years, enterprise technology and telecommunications purchasing decisions will be based on the preferences of individual employees, rather than traditional IT department criteria. In the past, hardware and software manufacturers targeted their latest products toward the enterprise market, and specifically the gate-keeping IT department.
  • The shift to three nines from five nines reliability is driving greater scrutiny of application deployment and usage. A principal driver for this change is cost. A fragile economic recovery this year is likely to keep businesses focused on identifying unnecessary products or services.
  • Businesses will start to look more towards distributed architectures such as cloud computing: energy efficiency and cost saving, thin client growth driven by virtualized data enters and increasingly the next step-towards cloud services (for example Google Apps). This new mindset will change the role of the equipment users need-and add major value to the role of the smartphone, tablet or even thin client that allows for access to information from any location.

So where will iPad find itself in the enterprise?

  • Statements such “70% of Fortune 100 companies are evaluating the iPhone” or “20% of companies in the US are evaluating the iPhone”, assume that the iPad is the same as the iPhone. This is questionable as it assumes that users will be enthused by the iPad in the same way as the iPhone, surely flawed logic? The product categories and usage patterns are different in many respects and initial responses appear somewhat underwhelming!
  • Why reinvent the wheel? Why should users or businesses substitute their or PCs (notebooks or netbooks) to make way for an iPad, when fully fledged devices are cheaper and supported by massive developer communities and support hundreds of thousands of applications?
  • It gives Apple developers yet another device. Write once, deploy on iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad
  • What about mobile management? Support for mobile devices (including notebooks) is still not widely deployed and many companies are not even aware of how important this is. In order to ever meet governance and compliance criteria this is still an issue that is a long way from being resolved, irrespective of how devices enter an organisation.

It’s very early to praise or condemn the iPad, or really predict where it will go in the Enterprise, but one thing is for certain-Apple has it’s work cut out to revolutionise the market for tablets in the same way it revolutionised the market for smartphones!

Andrew Brown

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