OPINION: iPad is the only game in town for tablets

Info-Tech Research Group Ltd. analyst Mark Tauschek thinks iPad adoption in the enterprise is “almost a certainty” and is calling on IT departments to start preparing their support strategy.


This is actually a pretty bold claim by Tauschek and one that goes against what most IT research firms and consultants have been saying thus far.


A Google search on “iPad” and “enterprise” will return quite a few news stories and blogs which highlight the Apple Inc. device’s shortcomings as a business device. In fact, earlier this week, I wrote a story which featured several analysts who expressed their skepticism about the device’s enterprise readiness.


Still, this hasn’t stopped Tauschek from advising his clients to start preparing for the iPad as soon as they can.


In the above video, the London, Ont.-based analyst highlights the fact that mobile workers — which might include health-care professionals, field technicians, and sales professionals — will be in the market for a lightweight and functional tablet device. Tauchek even floats the idea that devices such as the iPad and HP Co.’s upcoming Windows 7-powered Slate could have applicability to point-of-sale retail workers.


I don’t think there’s a question that people in these industries are yearning for smaller, lighter devices. The only issue for the iPad is whether IT departments want to accept yet another Apple device into their enterprise.


Here’s my take:


Given a little time, I believe the iPad will enjoy as much success as the iPhone has in the business world thus far.


The iPad is a first-generation product entering into a newly emerging tablet market. But unlike the smart phone industry, which had quite a few established players, Apple is entering into this next generation tablet market with no competition.


While Google Inc. is still contemplating a Chrome OS-based tablet, Microsoft Corp. has been very unimpressive in its efforts to launch a successful business- or even consumer-friendly tablet.


IT departments that recognize the need for this third type of device — notebooks and smart phones are the other two — would be wise to consider Apple’s device and start planning for its arrival upon the device’s launch.


I’m not advocating that IT shops start purchasing these devices in bulk, but considering the iPad in select cases, and supporting employees who want to use their personal iPads on the road, is a wise play.


Of course, this is all predicated on the idea that Apple will indeed address some of the device’s current flaws, including the lack of remote locking and multi-tasking functionality.


Still, the first generation devices will not be totally neglected by business users.


Pund-IT analyst Charles King put it best in his latest newsletter when he wrote: “In its current state, we expect that the iPad will find a ready audience among the digital cognoscenti and techno-hip executives. Both groups can act as willing and able proselytizers, as they have for past Apple products.”


With Apple almost certainly expected to address many of the concerns business users have with the device in subsequent releases. I also believe the company will make a concerted effort to get more business-capable apps on its App Store.


Given the option to choose between a netbook and an iPad, I believe many enterprise road warriors are going to gravitate toward the Apple device. It will be an excellent, lightweight device for making presentations, checking e-mail, surfing the Web, and reading documents.


When you add those factors to the fact that no other vendor seems ready to truly match Apple in the tablet market, it would only be wise to develop a policy for iPad support.

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