Is the iPad Apple’s Key to the Enterprise?


RIM recently announced the PlayBook, a 7-inch BlackBerry tablet clearly aimed at business professionals, but is it a case of too little, too late? Has Apple secured its entry into the enterprise market with the introduction of the iPad?

Computer World’s Jonny Evans seems to think so. In an article posted today, Evans cites his experiences at a massive international financial event in Geneva as evidence that Apple is cracking the enterprise market in a big way. iPads and iPhones were omnipresent at this event, according to Evans, despite it being exactly the type of place you’d expect a BlackBerry crowd.

Anecdotal evidence isn’t the only kind supporting the claim that Apple’s enterprise influence is growing. The iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS and iPad led the market in enterprise activations during the period between May and September of 2010 according to research firm Good Technology. Behind them was the Motorola Droid-X, an Android-based handset.

iOS devices accounted for 56 percent of net new activations’ total. For the iPad to appear third on that list overall, when it isn’t even a smartphone, is a hugely impressive feat for Apple. It’s clear the tablet is having an impact on Apple’s business, and I maintain that its success is also resulting in a halo effect for Apple’s iPhones, too.

An iPad in a business setting operating as a shared device has tremendous potential for Apple. It’ll familiarize more within the company with iOS, something that a few execs carrying iPhones wouldn’t necessarily do, and it’ll ensure that a company’s IT department has to get up to speed in terms of supporting the platform, which opens the door to iPhones, too.

Adding to the mounting case for the success of iOS in the enterprise, IBM recently introduced new developer tools and resources for corporate IT professionals aimed at capitalizing on the expected upswing in development for mobile platforms. It did so on the strength of a recent survey it conducted that found that by 2015, iPhone, iPad, Android and BlackBerry development will occlude traditional computer platform development in terms of the focus of IT professionals. The fact that iOS devices are named right alongside BlackBerry in such a context signals how much has already changed about the enterprise market.

In combination with the App Store, the iPad becomes even more appealing to business users, and even more of a threat to BlackBerry, even with the impeding arrival of the PlayBook. iOS developer expertise and white label solutions for Apple’s App Store abound, while BlackBerry’s App World hardly offers a comparable alternative in terms of either metric.

The iPad and iPhone already have a strong presence in enterprise; we just aren’t seeing it so much at ground level yet. But as adoption rates continue to climb, we’ll see the real picture emerge, and it’ll be one in which iOS figures much more strongly indeed.

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