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Is the iPad Apple’s Key to the Enterprise?

RIM (s 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 (s aapl) 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 (s mot) Droid-X, an Android-based (s goog) 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 (s 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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8 Responses to “Is the iPad Apple’s Key to the Enterprise?”

  1. Ames Tiedeman

    I’d like to see data on iPad sales to school districts. How long until schools across America drop the 35 lbs. of books they have the average 5th grader carrying in favor of the iPad? This seems like a no brainer to me. Apple must have a sales force tackling this. This will also a brilliant way to get the young using Apple products…

  2. cimarronbuser

    The iPad is on the precipice of becoming a monster. We’ve heard from numerous enterprises that executives view the iPad as a “must have” accessory, which in turn has driven IT to support it for email and wifi connectivity (reluctantly, in some cases).

    With the release of IOS 4.2 in November, I believe that the iPad will finally be “accepted” into the enterprise since it will have more than the minimum security features and configurability.

    iPad printing should be a “win”, but the initial implementation requiring a tethered Mac or PC to a printer is not enterprise-ready. I know several shops that are testing the 4.2 beta and needed to go out and purchase Macs and install the Beta OS X – not scalable.

    Finally, this will continue the trend of enterprises building “in house apps” under Apple’s Enterprise Developer program. The recent change to allow any sized company (not just those with 500+ employees) to participate was a good move by Apple (if not under publicized).

    With the flurry of new apps coming out, “Mobile App Management” becomes even more important for iPhone and iPad as well as other smartphones and soon-to-be tablets running Android.

  3. One of the issues holding many business back is the app store requirements.

    In order to be able to produce and distribute apps within an organisation you need to have (off the top of my head) 500+ employees.

    I’ve worked in many companies with less then 100 who would greatly benefit from having any number of mobile apps on the “i” platform, but can’t because of this restriction.

    I can’t think of many companies wanting to (or needing to) expose there workflows to the world (via the app store).

    Another area of missed opportunity is many small not for profit organisations, like sporting clubs, that would benefit greatly from the mobility that the platform provides.

    Until apple takes these considerations seriously, they are losing out on potential infrastructure sales (adding in Mac based servers/work stations) as well as the obvious adoption of the i-device

    My two cents

    • In you example, a company with less then 100 employees, would simply need one $100 per year iOS developer account which would allow for ad hoc distribution to up to 100 devices. Surely within reach of any such company.

  4. i think the competition is pretty lame. Windows 7 ain’t coming up with the solutions, blackberry just announce the playbook and android devices are very lame now.

    The mindshare for iPad is huge. this builds up the business network fast and by then the switching cost for business to android or blackberry or microsoft is going to be slow.


  5. Aditya Jani

    What makes the single most significant difference is, as you mentioned towards the end, the leveraging of the AppStore. Blackberry is going to have a tough time competing with that…

  6. Dilip andrade

    The problem with Good’s activation numbers is that they don’t count the full picture. Blackberry activations don’t show up because they don’t need Good. The final result us that all these conclusions are being built off an incredibly inaccurate statistical base.

    Good is merely one of the players in enterprise access for non Blackberry devices and conclusions built off their stats are necessarily built on a weak foundation.

  7. Hi Darrell –
    Thanks for a great article. I see a lot of people starting to use the iPad more and more to create things rather consume things. I posed this idea a few weeks ago that the iPad is currently still dominated by consumption activities. I feel there are two things that will happen which will drive the iPad’s use in the Enterprise further:

    1. Further acceptance of the tablet in general
    2. iOS apps getting more sophisticated

    I think these two are definitely happening – and I’m excited to see where this ends up.