iPad printing feature tops enterprise wish list

The recently announced iPhone OS 4 offered some positive features for enterprises looking to support Apple Inc.’s iPad, including the addition of multitasking support and improved enterprise security features. But, according to one IDC Corp. analyst, there are a few more additions business users will soon be looking for.


Susan Kevorkian, program director of mobile media and entertainment at IDC, said a single-tasking OS works fine on a smaller form factor like the iPhone, but the upgrade was necessary if the iPad is to take advantage of its larger display capability.


But, she added, the ability to run multiple apps simultaneously doesn’t necessarily mean the device will see huge enterprise adoption.


As it stands right now, the biggest issue with the iPad as an enterprise device is that it’s more about consuming content rather than creating content, Kevorkian said. Users in the graphic arts, health care, and retail sales industries will be hard pressed to use the device actively and for long periods of time, as opposed to a passive consumer.


One area that Apple should consider, Kevorkian said, is to develop special accessories, such as keyboards or other input devices. “If they’re going down the road of promoting the device for more creation purposes, perhaps Apple would consider offering a device bundle,” she said.


Kevorkian said enterprise and consumer users alike would be thrilled if Apple were to add printing capabilities to the device. “This would also make the iPad as a more viable substitute for a laptop PC,” she said.


This functionality is also something Hewlett-Packard Co., a giant in the printing industry, should consider with its slate device, she added.


Adobe Flash support would also be on the wish list, Kevorkian said, but it is an addition that she isn’t holding her breath for.


Upon the device’s official announcement in January, IDC predicted that four million iPads would be sold globally in 2010, but after initial demand the research firm is increasing that estimate to over five million units.


On Wednesday, Apple announced that it had already sold more than 500,000 iPads during its first week of availability.


New research from NetApplications.com indicates that the device is already capturing almost as much online usage as the BlackBerry OS and Android OS. The Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based firm said the iPad’s share has averaged 0.03 per cent since the device’s April 3 launch date.


Although the iPad has a long way to go before catching Windows XP, which accounts for 64.5 per cent of the total market, both the BlackBerry and Android platforms only captured a usage share of 0.04 per cent each.


Kevorkian said with the device’s huge popularity, coupled with the upcoming additions of multitasking and interactive ad content, users will want to keep their eye on whether wireless carriers can keep up with the increasingly data intensive device.


“In the U.S., AT&T has even struggled to keep up with demand from users who are single-tasking, or mono-tasking, as it’s sometimes called,” she said.


As for whether companies should wait for the new iPhone OS 4 to arrive this fall before testing the iPad, Kevorkian said IT shops should feel free to experiment with the device where appropriate.


“It’s not necessarily productive to delay rollouts,” she said.


– With files from ComputerWorld (US)

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