The iPad is about to steamroll into the Enterprise

Since the iPad was originally introduced people have been buying it for an amazing assortment of tasks.  While no one has been talking much about its penetration in the Enterprise it is getting to a point where it can’t be dismissed or ignored.

Just recently I’ve been to a significant number of meetings where one, two or more of the participants were using an iPad to take notes or look up information.   A quick chat with some of the other participants revealed that several of them are heave iPad users at home but haven’t yet decided to bring it into the office as they prefer to stick to their company issued computers.

The big question is how long will it be before an iPad becomes a company issued computer?  The BBC has already started a trial of the iPad as an all around computer replacement, for certain tasks.  The company’s CIO was quick to grasp that for some specific occupations it is a great tool.  A clear example of such an occupation is technical support.

The people that are responsible for providing technical support of just about any type spend a  large slice of their time moving around in the office or other company premises and having a 700 grams, instant on computer that can access the company’s system’s through a regular wi-fi connection of through a VPN over 3G is clearly a great advantage.   The same applicability seems to have been clear to most health professionals, almost from day one.

With the release of iOS 4.2 for iPad in November, Apple will be adding a feature to the iPad which is specially interesting for business users: the ability to print directly from the device.  This is something that a lot of people have been asking for a long time.  Coupled with the ability to better manage the applications on the device and the ability to quickly switch tasks this will make the iPad even more attractive as an all around desktop or notebook computer replacement.

Just how good is an iPad as a general computer replacement?  Obviously it depends a lot on what you do with most of your time on a computer.   In my case I moved most of my activities to the iPad.  I use it for 90% of my browsing, 90% of my email and Twitter and pretty much 100% of my Facebook usage.  When don’t I use the iPad for email and Twitter?  When I’m already using another computer to accomplish a task I haven’t moved to the iPad yet, such as writing blog posts.

Make no mistake, I do all the reading, research and notes for the blog posts on the iPad, but I prefer to use my MacBook to sit down and actually write my posts and for doing all my image handling. I haven’t yet used the iPad to create a presentation, but I have used it to share some slides with one or two people.

While I still wouldn’t recommend the iPad as anyone’s single computer, specially as Apple goes out of its way to tie it up to a regular computer and iTunes, I consider it the best option for carrying around with you all day, going into meeting and moving around the office.  I also think it is the  best computer to carry on short trips.

I have surprised my self with just how many PDF’s I’m actually reading instead of just saving them for reading at a future opportunity that never comes.  Being able to read the PDFs while just sitting on the sofa or reclining in bed without the weight and heat of a notebook on my lad has proven to be be a huge improvement and incentive to go through all that material.

There is already a large number of applications which are specifically geared towards business use such as Apple’s productivity tools and those of the Omni Group.  Those are  a few of the better known examples. I’ve run across several other interesting apps such as iMockup for iPad which helps you sketch application interfaces on the iPad and Manuscript which is geared towards writers.  While both of these applications are still in their first iterations they are already quite interesting. Both of these applications were designed with professional activities in mind.

As more applications that focus on business activities, more the attractive the iPad becomes to business users.  Up this point, the handfull of potential competitors that have come out to challenge the iPad in the tablet space seem highly unlikely to present a competitive threat in the Enterprise space.  In this space the only company that might be up to the task of challenging Apple is HP.  Wether or not it will live up to the expectations created with the acquisition of Palm and its webOS mobile OS is still in the air.

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6 Responses to “ “The iPad is about to steamroll into the Enterprise”

  1. John says:

    I think one of the areas that Apple really need to work on is app management on these devices, for corporate world. IT need to be able to install apps remotely, manage setting and more, without requiring physical access to the device. And there needs to be an easy way to an app on 100s of devices.

  2. Scott Falbo says:

    iJuror, our app for jury selection has been very well received by attorneys. The legal profession seems very receptive to using the iPad for day to day business.

  3. David Bryson says:

    Wow did I really just read an article praising Apple for adding printing capability to a computer ?

    Haven’t we had a printing “feature” standard on every computer for the last 20 years ?

    This Apple iPad/iPhone silliness is getting out of control.

  4. Mauricio Longo says:

    I could agree with you David, weren’t for the fact that the previous mobile/hand held computers I had from Compaq and Palm not really having print options. The Windows Mobile versions I used didn’t really print anything.

    It’s really a double edged subject. Many people dismiss the iPad as a large iPhone (which it really is, and which is one of its main advantages). Phones in general don’t go around printing documents. Others recognize that the iPad can be used as a regular computer. Those in this second camp have been clamoring for the ability to print documents.

    So, it is not really a matter of praising Apple for adding the feature, but acknowledging that a feature will be added which will help the device gain acceptance as a general computer.

    You seem to have accepted it quite nicely as a regular computer. 🙂

  5. Bill French says:

    David, you just don’t get it.

    Mobile device users typically print far less than in desktop use cases. Many studies worldwide have shown that the pathway to the paperless society is possible only when mobile devices are capable of replacing (to a large degree) the presentation of information as an alternative approach to printing.

    The whole idea of iPad is that we don’t have to carry and lug paper any more. I’ve read many stories from road warriors who have completely ditched catalogs, product spec sheets, and entire parts catalogs because these artifacts are now freely traveling on iPad. This use case is the harbinger of what’s to come – business process that is streamlined and mostly avoids printing in the field.

    Chastising ANY vendor for going to market with a mobile device that lacks print drivers is foolishness and demonstrates a constrained understanding of opportunities to change the way businesses use (or avoid) printing on paper.

    Sure, there are times when printing is necessary, but they are dwindling rapidly. Furthermore, the few use cases whe this is a key requirement hasn’t stopped the business cases from being achieved. As such, there was no compelling reason for Apple to worry about early printing support.

    Sure, Apple needs to support printing, but suggesting it’s a show-stopper or complaining because they did it with the first iOS upgrade is short-sighted. Suggesting that people shouldn’t be excited about having such access is also petty. iPad users (especially corporate users such as SAP) get pretty excited when Apple helps them avoid the cost of a third part printing app at $10us a device for 1,000 iPad’s.

    FWIW, The first universal print drivers for Windows 1.0 didn’t make an appearance until the third update, and even then, they were very limited.

    Cheers! –bf

  6. beef623 says:

    It isn’t really a very practical option for enterprise use. We’ve been passing one around the office to evaluate it (each person for a week, then start the cycle over again) and there wasn’t anything that it did that I couldn’t do just as easily (sometimes easier) from my phone.

    It’s also ridiculously expensive for what it is. You can get 2 full size laptops with far more horsepower, storage space and customizability for the price of one iPad.

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