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October 29, 2010

iPad ready to make enterprise splash: Forrester

Apple's iPad has "exploded" on to the enterprise scene, according to industry watchers Forrester who predict three distinct use cases for deploying the must-have tablets at work

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Forrester’s report, called How iPads Enter The Workforce, says that iPads will make an impact at the office and its release has kick-started an "arms race for smart mobile devices," with similar offerings including the Cisco Cius, Dell Streak, Samsung Galaxy Tab, RIM PlayBook, HP Windows 7 Tablet giving users greater choice than ever before.

"iPad has exploded onto the scene," blogged Ted Schadler, the report’s author. "Who could have imagined that a tablet (a category introduced in 2001) would capture the imagination of employees and IT alike? These post-PC devices will find a place in your company, but where?"

There will be three main uses for iPads in the enterprise, Schadler reckons. It could:

  • "Displace," as in use a tablet instead of a laptop: "This is the classic executive and mobile professional scenario. While it will be some time before tablets replace laptops completely, iPads have proven their value in meeting rooms, on the go, and of course as personal devices. But for now, it means tablets are a third device alongside smartphones and laptops," the report says.
  • "Replace," as in use a tablet instead of a clipboard: "This scenario gets much more interesting and potentially valuable, particularly as some smart business or IT employee starts thinking about how to improve a business activity. Today, many business activities are still paper-driven, usually because they take place far from an office, often in small meeting situations such as insurance underwriting, pharmaceutical sales, or construction site reviews. Tablets could be much better.
  • "New place," as in use a tablet in places where we use nothing today: "This is potentially the most interesting and valuable category of all. Computers have found their way into many non-traditional places: classrooms, conference rooms, couches, and coffee shops, for example. This includes doctors using iPads to write orders in surgery or access patient records in the examination room."

"Apple’s iPad has redefined what tablets can do. With an all-day battery life, a seductive form factor and user experience, and a rapidly expanding portfolio of business applications, iPad has captivated consumers and employees alike. And it’s pushed the device industry to innovate like crazy," the report says.

The analyst house adds that 30% of IT shops are piloting or planning tablet apps while a further 43% of firms in North America and Europe are interested in tablets. Only one in four firms have no current tablet plans, the report says.

"We’ve had over 200 conversations with IT customers about iPads and other tablets since January. The interest is incredible. And IT is ahead of the curve on this one, determined not to be playing catch-up as happened with employee and executive demand for iPhones," Schadler’s blog added.

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Apple’s most recent financial figures revealed that the Cupertino, California-based giant sold 4.19 million iPads during Q4 2010. Added to the 3.2 million sold during its first quarter in the wild, Apple has shifted around 7.5 million iPads in just six months, which is not at all bad considering the iPhone sold between 3.5 – 4 million during its first six months on sale.

The iPad’s huge success has already forced Forrester to up its tablet sales prediction for 2010; the company now thinks 13 million units will be shifted this year, on a path to 59 million tablets in the hands of US consumers by 2015.

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