Connected Workers Going iPad for Productivity


Nearly 50 percent of the mobile workforce carries more than three devices, causing them to stay connected longer, according to the latest quarterly Mobile Workforce Report from iPass, a Redwood Shores, CA-based enterprise mobility service provider. This combination of technology and connectivity blurs the role of devices between work and home. Signs are indicating that after the smartphone, the future enterprise device of choice for mobile workers will be an iPad.

Breaking the chain of connectivity is increasingly difficult for mobile workers — of the more than 1,100 mobile workers surveyed by iPass, 94 percent are always connected or occasionally connected, even while on vacation. When iPass asked why the disconnected are pulling the plug, the responses indicated more situational reasons such as a lack of signal, as opposed to a conscious effort to stay offline.

While 97 percent of survey respondents carry two or more devices, iPass finds that those who carry a single device are opting for a smartphone over a laptop. A few years ago, I would have expected more workers to choose the laptop in a single device scenario, mainly because of the software and functionality benefits that a portable computer offered over handsets at that time. But the combination of fast-maturing smartphone hardware, a greater range of wireless broadband coverage and more complex software applications has altered the device of choice. The smartphone isn’t yet replacing a laptop for every task or for every mobile worker, but smaller and thinner mobile devices are reducing the relevance of bulkier notebook computers.

In line with a theme of laptop replacement are tablet PCs — which have existed in the business world for nearly a decade — and Apple’s iPad (s aapl). When iPass asked mobile workers if they planned to purchase a Tablet PC or iPad in the next six months, 26.3 percent said they intend to purchase an iPad while just under 7 percent are planning to buy a Tablet PC. These purchases aren’t all fun and games though — 90.6 percent of those who have or plan to get an iPad are expecting to do some work on the slate device and nearly 20 percent said the iPad would be mostly for work or solely for work.

The intended use for iPads in the enterprise should concern traditional PC makers for a few reasons. The iPass report results aren’t an outlier — today’s Wall Street Journal confirms that both employees and employers want iPads for productivity, citing several examples of how businesses are adopting the tablet. And as previously noted, the Tablet PC — a Microsoft Windows (s msft) platform that debuted in 2001 — had relatively little traction in the past and is now getting relegated to a has-been by many mobile workers. Thanks to various remote desktop solutions and improved support for enterprise-level security software features in iOS 4, Apple’s iPad appears poised to invade the Windows workspace.

Related research on GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

Why the iPad is Right for the Enterprise


David Schreffler

It’s clear that tablets like the iPad are gaining popularity in terms of enterprise use. This is definitely going to be an area where companies will need to adapt, as traditionally companies have assigned employees devices, rather than having them bring in their own devices for business purposes. I work for Kony Solutions and we’ve noticed that companies are becoming more in tune with this need, and are developing dedicated enterprise applications for employees that they can download and use on their own mobile devices. The key issue here is that the iPad won’t be the only popular tablet device for long. Several competitors have announced plans to introduce their own versions, so companies need to use Write Once, Run Everywhere technology to create mobile applications and programs that will run on any device, regardless of operating system.

T Lemon

I’m always so surprised to see people ranting about “the ipad can’t make it in the enterprise.”

It already is, in a huge way. I’m working overtime supplying systems for iPad in enterprise. The uses are so many I could throw a rock in the air and hit a customer.

But, this is in “real business apps” which apparently so few of the “anti apple” crowd know about.


Pardon me, but which businesses?

Doesn’t even have to be names but some real usage scenarios married up with applications would be good.

And what “systems for iPad” could you be talking about anyway? Aside from the actual device and the data service – I can’t think of what you’re claiming needs to be set up for them in conjunction with any real enterprise environment.

The only person i’ve seen make good, consistent use of an ipad for business is a friend who does video editing. Who drags it around as a portable showreel, does some wireframes or when he’s at the desktop sometimes uses it to hold pallets etc. But this is quite a specific field and it’s certainly not your broad and general enterprise application.

Gene Barnash

You miss a crucial point. Those of us who buy iPads for business need Apple to take us seriously. I saw an artsy-fartsy iPad of what it will do. I remarked that mine didn’t do that–it does documents, spreadsheets, email and other productivity tasks. Apple’s Pages and Numbers are not up to the task. Apple better get their act together on this before Microsoft fixes it for them (as they did with Mac for Office).


You should add the disclaimer Kevin that iPass is affiliated with Apple. Either that, or I need some of what they’re smoking.

I fail to see how the iPad can be a success in the enterprise when it lacks basic editing, print and document transfer capabilities – three things people in business depend on to get things done. Productivity is directly proportional to time, and I’ve yet to know of a serious business that doesn’t put a dollar figure on time.

Unless developers can write specific apps that are customized for the business task, something that has been done in the past on other platforms with the likes of Java, I don’t see Apple winning any points at all. The fact that the hardware itself is so locked down and difficult to mate with other peripherals leaves me scratching my head to think that even in the enterprise this would only serve as a limited role, niche product. The price to pay for having a touch interface is too high when it forgoes existing connectivity, capability and requires business spending money on developers to produce proprietary software solutions.

Electronic clipboard? Inventory control? Perhaps. But you’ll be grabbing your netbook to type anything more than a few short notes. Putting a device that was designed for lazy/rich consumers who know little about computers into the hands of IT experts to run a business is a brash expectation. There’s a good reason companies like HP differentiate their consumer line of hardware from their enterprise line. I’m fairly confident that the notebook, and netbook, will be around in the enterprise market for a long time yet, and won’t be challenged by slate devices any time soon.

Kevin C. Tofel

I’ll pass the cigarette around, because iPass is a public company with no Apple affiliation that I know of. ;)

I’m not disagreeing with your comments, but you’re applying your own business requirements that may or may not apply to others. Bear in mind this was a survey of people in the enterprise, not my data and not that of iPass’s, for that matter. I know from many conversations with you that a netbook is far better suited for your needs and I respect that personal choice. But, I’m not sure you’re respecting the choice that others are saying they want to make.

I also don’t agree that the iPad “lacks basic editing, print and document transfer capabilities,” but that’s another conversation for another time. ;) And there are plenty of specific apps on iPad customized for business tasks and systems: LogMeIn, Citrix, GoToMeeting, AirSharing, etc…. That’s not to say that an iPad can or will supplant a different device for every need, but I don’t believe the situation is as bleak as you suspect. And you don’t have to listen to me… just look to the survey results, which speak for themselves — a growing number of enterprise users want iPads in the office, regardless of what you or I think.


Alright Kevin, I respect your opinion, and to give you the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to throw out a challenge to you:

30 days, work and play, with nothing except your smartphone and iPad!!!

No netbook, no PC, no MacBook – turn them off! Use of iPad accessories is permitted. Go with any available iPad app you want, although using LogMeIn to get to your real computer would be cheating IMO.

If you can pull it off, and I’m sure you’ll try, I would like to read about how you did it and what challenges you faced. If YOU can demonstrate here on jkOnTheRun what the iPad is really capable of in a productivity-focused work environment, I’m sure it would be far more convincing than quoting a mere survey.

Are you game???

Kevin C. Tofel

Yikes, while I’m always up for a challenge — remember my 30 days using only a UMPC and 60 days using no apps but a browser? — you’re missing a key point.

Every time an iPad productivity post is written, I can count on you to respond that it’s simply not possible to be productive with an iPad and that a netbook is a better — dare I say — or best choice for mobile productivity. Again, I say that I respect that opinion but why must it be either / or? And how can you be in a position to evaluate everyone else’s needs or definition of mobile productivity? If you can’t be productive with an iPad, it’s because the tool doesn’t meet your needs. No problem! I’m not judging you for that opinion. Yet you seem to be judging anyone and everyone who has the opposite opinion. Basically, anyone who says they can be productive with an iPad is simply wrong, stupid or high, based on your comments. ;)

The point of the original post was not for me to convince you or anyone else that you can be productive with an iPad. Could I take the challenge? Sure I could, as I do nearly all of my work in a browser, an email client, and a feed reader. What would be the point though? My productivity activities are totally different from yours, so it would prove nothing. And again, I was never trying to convince you that YOU can be productive with an iPad even though you seem intent on trying to prove that I can’t nor can anyone in an enterprise setting. Again, you’ve totally missed the point of the post or have turned it into a crusade for netbooks as the one and only mobile productivity tool.

Not trying to be harsh here, but this unnecessary argument is getting old. ;) Just use what works best for you and let others do the same, ‘k?

Palin Army

Did you forgets that iPad has the BLUE TOOTH !!
They have crazy nice alluminum portable keyboard that work with iPad so no worry about typing tasks. Tanks you very much.


I’m with you. I work for an IT company and I’d get laughed out the door for suggesting we invest in iPads — no built-in USB or card support, a non-standard OS and, even though it weighs 1.5lbs, no proper keyboard. I already have a BlackBerry for work, I don’t need a big iPhone.

International Business Machine

OMG I think you just said you use Crackberry. That is your biggest problem. Your IT is already 2 steps behind the iOS4 and Android folks and the Horrific BB browser is the least productive mobile browser EVAH ! Indeed you don’t need a “big iPhone” you need to rethink your entire mobile strategy (if you even have one)! Let’s be clear everybody The Blackberry is good for ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY. Corporate Email..that’s is basically a single function device that is behind the times and OS6 doesn’t look like it will leapfrog nobody. Your IT department is being laughed at right now dude ! ROTFLMAO :-)

Rick W

Call me an iPad skeptic, but as an owner of one, I can’t say that it’s a productivity machine. It seems to be more for information consumers than for producers. As a web worker, I can’t FTP files securely or reliably, I can’t create graphics, and I can’t even check Google Analytics (the graphs use Flash).

Other than e-mail, web browsing and social media, I just don’t see the iPad as having nearly the usefulness of my MacBook Air or other laptop.


Nobody ever said you could replace a MacBook Air with an iPad for Web development. iOS is specifically not meant for programming of any kind. The Mac specifically includes a world class Unix Web development environment. The Mac has many world class Web development tools you use in concert as though they are one big app you built yourself to your tastes.

However, for many people, working on a website just means logging in to a CMS in a browser and changing some content. Sometimes under a tight deadline because of a legal issue, or to fix an embarrassing typo that has just been discovered. Being able to do that from an iPad is highly productive and very convenient. Especially when on-the-go.

The way to look at Mac OS versus iOS is exactly the same as Final Cut Pro versus iMovie. In spite of having way, way fewer features, sometimes iMovie is a better solution than Final Cut Pro. For some users, iMovie is all the video editing they will ever need. And even if you work 60 hours a week in Final Cut Pro, you might very gladly use iMovie to do a quick YouTube video from time to time. iMovie on iOS just gives you a way to do that while on-the-go.

Also, a lot of productivity starts out with a paper notebook or a sketch book or an audio recorder, even if it ultimately is produced on a Mac. iPad is great for recording song demos (StudioTrack) and painting and sketching (Brushes or many others) or writing 10,000 words for later editing (SimpleNote or any number of apps plus Bluetooth keyboard) and even making interface mockups and flow charts for programming (OmniGraffle and other apps). When you get back to a desk and a Mac, you have creative work you move over from iPad to Mac and then go to work in Logic Pro or Photoshop or Xcode or whatever on actual production work.

And iPad does have great SFTP and WebDAV in Air Sharing HD.

Reece Tarbert

Signs are indicating that after the smartphone, the future enterprise device of choice for mobile workers will be an iPad.

Sorry for being skeptical, but each time someone talks about the iPad as an enterprise device my bullshit detector goes berserk.

Maybe in the future these issues will be fixed, but right now I can’t print, moving documents across devices is an unmitigated mess, I can’t do any serious editing and I can’t connect to a network share — either directly or via a VPN.

smaller and thinner mobile devices are reducing the relevance of bulkier notebook computers.

These are netbooks, right? Intel has shipped 70 million Intel Atom netbook processors since launching the chips in 2008 and just introduced the Dual-Core N550. Still, nobody is waxing poetic about it which, if nothing else, goes to Apple’s credit.

Executive Suite

Smarter corporations are already adopting the iPad for deployment. I will have to assume you belong to the not-so-smart corporation who active look for reasons NOT to adopt any new technology instead of looking at the huge number of reasons to adopt a revolutionary device and greatly increase productivity. All those deficiencies are minor and will be fixed shortly, if you can’t wait you are free to provide a solution yourself instead of riding on the backs of more productive users. I will end this now as your negative waves are upsetting my karma. Debbie Downers don’t deserve iPad anyways it is time for you to move on.

Reece Tarbert

“Smarter corporations are already adopting the iPad for deployment.”

Care to provide any names and examples in addition to the press releases printed more or less verbatim? Those I can find myself, thank you.

“I will have to assume you belong to the not-so-smart corporation”

Well, for what is worth, I assume you’ve been drinking too much Kool-Aid but, hey, maybe I’m wrong!

“if you can’t wait you are free to provide a solution yourself instead of riding on the backs of more productive users.”

As a (paying) end user why should it be up to me to provide a solution? It’s not that there aren’t other products that I can use right now, you know?

“I will end this now as your negative waves are upsetting my karma.”

Sorry about that, but I think it’s called criticism or, in this case, skepticism. Try developing some, it will do you no end of good!

PS: You haven’t been very positive (or helpful) either. Hamranhansenhansen mentioned “Air Sharing HD” that seems to work around some of the current limitations but you, on the other hand, preferred to play the PR man and insult who doesn’t agree with you (or The Leader Maximo).



“but right now I can’t print, moving documents across devices is an unmitigated mess, I can’t do any serious editing and I can’t connect to a network share — either directly or via a VPN.”

VPN is built-in to iPad.

Most or all of your other complaints are solved just by installing “Air Sharing HD” on the iPad, for $10. It is the equivalent of the Mac Finder or Windows Explorer for iPad. It immediately makes you feel like you are running “a computer.”

When Air Sharing is running, your iPad appears as a Bonjour WebDAV file server to other devices on the network, and you can easily upload or download documents. On a Mac, a Bonjour WebDAV server can be easily mounted just by asking for it by name.local (e.g. “iPad.local”) and it appears as a disk on the Desktop. Not sure how it works on Windows, but surely there are at least 3rd party apps that can mount WebDAV if Windows itself can’t, and if you want Bonjour, Apple has a Bonjour for Windows you can install. Otherwise you can use IP addresses.

You can also mount other file servers on iPad with Air Sharing. So you can easily upload or download documents from iPad to other systems on the network or the Internet.

When Air Sharing is installed, if you download for example a Zip file in Safari on iPad, instead of saying “Safari can’t view this document” you are asked if you want to open the Zip file in Air Sharing. If you say yes, the Zip file goes into Air Sharing and is decompressed and you can access those files. Same with many other “computery” files.

Air Sharing can also view pretty much any file type as you browse network shares.

Air Sharing can also print to network printers.

“smaller and thinner mobile devices are reducing the relevance of bulkier notebook computers.”

“[iPads] are netbooks, right?”

iPad is half the size and weight of a netbook, and has double the battery life, and has instant-on, and can be used standing up or while moving around. It’s a much smaller and more mobile device than a netbook. iPad is literally a big smartphone. The guts inside are the same as in the iPhone, except there are 2 batteries.

Also the apps are made for mobility, they give you big finger-friendly buttons, you can zoom maps, etc.

So even if you are already using a netbook, going to an iPad buys you a lot more mobility.

And it doesn’t get viruses or require constant I-T hand-holding like a netbook.


“The guts inside are the same as in the iPhone, except there are 2 batteries.”

Most enterprise users already have smartphones, so why would they need an iPad, which is much heavier and bulkier yet provides no extra functionality?

“And it doesn’t get viruses or require constant I-T hand-holding like a netbook.”

Most enterprises deploy Windows-based laptops, so supporting Windows-based netbooks is no big deal, since the OS is the same. The users are familiar with the OS, so there’s no learning curve or additional user support required, and the enterprise is sure to have a corporate license for anti-virus software so that’s a non-issue.

Reece Tarbert

Thank you for mentioning “Air Sharing HD”. I didn’t know about it but, although the details on its web site are a bit on the light side, it looks like it could be possible to work around most of the limitations I (and other potential users) mentioned.

But, as we’re talking about the iPad’s adoption in the enterprise, surely these features should be built-in?

Anyway, thanks again!



Can anyone explain why it’s taking so friggin’ long to get iPad competitors (be they win, Linux, Android or WebOS) to market? In the meantime, I would think someone in the Hackintosh community would have been able to produce a stable, working port of Flash to the iPad. Bring on the (non-Apple) tablets, I say.

Kevin C. Tofel

Ed, a number of tablets have come to market, mainly by the lesser known manufacturers. There’s a number of reasons why none have been successful, but one of the main ones is software. Unfortunately, in the case of Android, most tablets don’t have official access to the Android Market — that’s generally been reserved for smartphones so far. I expect that to change in the next 3-6 months as Android begins a tablet push, but until then, the devices can’t compete from a software standpoint. Usability, interface, marketing and other factors are also in play, of course.

S. Leopard

Apple’s execution of new products is not perfect but compared to the blind followers and Mountain View Pirates they are the leaders and it shows. I mean it took THREE(3) YEARS for those Android wimps just to catch up to the single lowly iPhone. The iPad has raised the bar even higher and The Google is working furiously 24×7 to try and catch the mighty iPad. Lucky for Google that they can’t make enuff of those pads else they would surely sell 10 million per month globally if they could only make more than the measly 2 million they currently produce. Another reason for the huge delays is the Android flunkies cannot decide whether it best to ship a slate with Android or its big brother ChromeOS. When will the Android engineers actually do something other than blatantly copy and copy and copy Apple ???


Because iPad is 90% software, software takes forever to make, and Apple is way out ahead in software, like 10 years ahead of everyone else, because the software in iOS devices came over from the Mac. Software is one of those tasks you can’t just throw more people or money at and get it done faster. It’s like you can’t have a baby in 1 month even if you have 9 women.

The hardware parts of an iPad are really basic. It’s just a typical smartphone with a big screen and extra batteries. Anyone can make the hardware. But above the hardware there is tumbleweeds except for Apple. Apple’s OS X scales from very small to very big, it doesn’t care, so it is very happy on iPad right there in the middle. Nobody else has that. Microsoft has 2 versions of Windows, one that is too small for iPad and one that is too big. Android is too small for iPad and Linux is too big.

So there are years of software development that has to be done outside of Apple in order to make iPad class devices. So get your iPad now or enjoy the wait.

Brutus Beefcake

No doubt the iPad is a Productivity Workhorse and is being seriously considered in many corporate environments. It has already demonstrated its ability to rightly kick the netbook to the curb for many customers as confirmed by netbook creator ASUS.
So far all the wannabe iPads running Android are a big fat ugly joke with more junk coming from them just in time to rob you of your holiday shopping dollars. The only viable alternative I can see would be a WebOS tablet from HP but since it lacks huge app selection I would like to see HP cross-license WebOS tablet access to the iPad store so that the HP Slate can run all those wonderful Apple apps directly instead of some cloned crapware like the Android crumbs love to create.

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