iPad optimize

Apple iPad: Will business apps drive its success in the enterprise?

iPad reality vs. the hype is just around the corner. The wealth of available apps will appeal to many consumers, but will business apps for the iPad push it into the enterprise?

With the iPad release just around the corner, there is still a lot of speculation about how significant the device will actually be, not just to consumers but also to the business world. Undoubtedly Apple's bread and butter has always been the entertainment aspects of its devices and their appeal to consumers. But increasingly people want their go-to devices to do double-duty for work and pleasure, whether they are watching a movie during their commute, accessing a spreadsheet, responding to business emails, or calling their Mom.

Apple seems increasingly well-positioned to meet the needs of consumers who are also business users, and one big way it is succeeding is with the number of apps available for the iPhone platform and, soon, the iPad. PCWorld's Tony Bradley wrote an interesting piece about a recent developer survey by Appcelerator, a platform and services company for Web developers, that shows just how much Apple dominates the developer base. Of the developers surveyed, 80% were interested in developing apps for the iPad. You can get the full Appcelerator March 2010 survey here.

Bradley's focus in the post is in explaining how decision makers can use surveys like this to help them decide which platforms to invest in. For example:

Organizations may want to think twice about investing in Palm WebOS smartphones since so many analysts have already written Palm's obituary and developers are shying away from creating apps for the platform. However, businesses can invest in platforms like iPhone, Android, and iPad with confidence that the devices will be supported with a robust marketplace of apps to extend the functionality and provide value.

In general, things are looking pretty good for the iPad, simply because of the great popularity of the apps explosion that happened on the iPhone platform and which will now extend to the new device. In a veritable sea of apps for the iPad that includes everything from strumming an Air Harp to reading a comic book, there will also be business apps, like those announced by IBM back in February. IBM appears to be betting on the iPad trend, as quoted from iPhonealley.com:

"Peoples' lives don't segment neatly between work and home. The iPad gives people what will probably be a home device, but they're still going to want to access a full suite of business software on it," he says. "It'll be a device our customers will own, and they'll expect us to support it."

Whether you were an iPad skeptic or zealot at the time of its announcement in January, do you find that you've changed your mind about the viability of the device? Do you think it will have much more of a business impact now than you did then? How likely is it that your IT organization will be supporting the iPad in the coming months?

About

Selena has been at TechRepublic since 2002. She is currently a Senior Editor with a background in technical writing, editing, and research. She edits Data Center, Linux and Open Source, Apple in the Enterprise, The Enterprise Cloud, Web Designer, and...

33 comments
alan
alan

I have read every article I can find on the Ipad and no where have I read that you can connect to an exchange server. I would purchase one on Saturday if it acutally supports Exchange. Email, contacts and calandar.

mbm29414
mbm29414

If you go to Apple's website, then to the iPad section, then to the Guided Tours section, the second guided tour video is about mail. The video is 2:16 long, and at about 2:06, they show and mention what email services are compatible. Audio quote: "Mail works with most popular email services and enterprise email servers." Top right on the screen during the quote? Microsoft Exchange. I don't personally use it. I use pop3 and IMAP, but if that's the sticking point for you, it appears that Apple has cleared that hurdle.

Cyclops116
Cyclops116

I thought it had the same email client as the iPhone?

alan
alan

No articles mentioned exchange support, some even said it would support exchange on the second release. But I'm happy to say it does support exchange and I will end up with one.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Since it can access the Internet, you can use Outlook Web Access.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

As of today there's still no product. What has changed since the announcement to change my mind? Maybe I'm unimaginative, but I can't see anyone wanting to run business apps on a device with no physical keyboard or keypad. This still looks like a consumer entertainment device to me, and I don't expect the company to be buying (or supporting) one this year.

mafergus
mafergus

It's funny but I remember when IT wanted to limit the number of apps that users have on the desktop. I also remember complaints about the durability of laptop keyboards and how the old Tablets were going to be saviors of IT. Not to mention how everyone is in love with cloud applications and how everything is becoming web or component based! It the perfect IT enterprise management world, we NEVER wanted to give the users too much of anything! Bigger hard drives just give users more room to store junk that we have to maintain. And touchscreens are the wave of the future. Go google the rolltop computer for proof. I think the I-PAD is the perfect enterprise tool. It is the epitome of "less is more". It has the most less of any portable device i have ever seen since...ever!

jfuller05
jfuller05

You get less starting at $499. *content sigh* Less is more.

jfuller05
jfuller05

That seem about right. The majority of people want the new gadget even if they will just put it down after a few days/weeks of buying it and put it in a closet or a box in a garage. In my opinion, that's how the iPad will be. The product will have tremendous initial sales and then the sales will gradually fall back.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

A woman who said she was glad her iPad was restricted to Apple's approved apps. She didn't want to view porn, and "I don't look at all that other stuff anyway." The reporter went on to compare the Apple environment to a gated community. His comparison reminded me of the days when AOL subscribers thought it was the whole 'net. Maybe these things come in cycles, and too many restrictions alternate with too much unrestricted content. An AP article in Sunday's paper quoted people who were going to buy it even if they didn't yet know what it would do or what they were going to do with it.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

'...the epitome of "less is more"...' Less compatibility, less capability, less capacity, less connectivity. With no capability for expansion and no external ports, the iPad simply will not do what the majority of people I know want it to do: replace their over-sized, over-weight laptop.

mbm29414
mbm29414

Again, writing entire response on iPad... First of all, with regard to the picture question, this device is not billed as a laptop replacement, much less the one device that can be all computers to you, however, going to a wireless router is a cheap and easy process, so I'm assuming that a user who had the needs of your straw man would be willing to do that. It costs thirty bucks and a half hour of your time. Plus, if it's to truly be the only computer device they have, they have to expect to purchase accessories, which is how they get the pictures from camera to iPad. As to the business uses, I'm not sure your response is a fair assessment of what has been presented. When a new laptop is introduced, no one questions whether a business need exists for this machine. It's assumed that a nice piece of hardware can meet a business need. In this case, the software is only beginning to be written, whereas in the full OS world, it's already there, but new software is constantly being written to take advantage of hardware breakthroughs. Why should this be any different? Also, may I remind you that as part of the IT department, your job is to HELP your users, not limit them from being productive because of your bias? If your bosses tell you to support an iPad, you better do it with a smile or you're not being a good employee. Unfortunately, your attitude is far too prevalent in the IT world, where something that is new or unfamiliar is dismissed with anger and disdain. Maybe that's the root of most of the anger about the iPad: unfamiliar territory.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

How do I get photos off my camera and onto my Facebook site with only an iPad? Assume we're replacing my home desktop and I have cable or DSL but no wireless. Assume I'm not willing to pay for a second AT&T bill on top of my existing cell phone contract. We're bitching because so much of what we've heard and read keeps insisting there are huge but unspecified business uses for this device. I'm not hostile toward the device as much as its marketing. I'm especially hostile toward those who insist I'll support it and damn well like it when someone brings one in the building.

mbm29414
mbm29414

I love how everyone keeps pontificating about the iPad. I especially love it when people who haven?t touched one know all the reasons why it will never work. Nick, have you used one? Have you touched one? Have you even seen one in person? As I said to Palmetto, this device is not intended to be a laptop replacement. In a business setting, it?s very unlikely to be able to do so. I think, though, for a ?generic? office worker that has basic needs, it might be a possible fit if a company is already used to the iWork file formats. For a home user, however, the story is a good bit different. Quite a lot of people have no true use for the ?ber-powerful computers we have today. Quite a lot of people I know use a home computer for web browsing and email. I know this has become the stereotypical ?home user,? but I think it?s a valid moniker in many cases. For those people, I think the iPad is a potential laptop replacement. Remember, though, that?s not the target market. Even still, it?s probably a better fit for most people?s preferences and usage habits than a netbook. My company has used netbooks, and we find that they?re good for a particular use. I don?t think they?re terribly user-friendly for most home users, though. I think the iPad is. It will probably replace my laptop usage at home for media consumption. If people are really trying to use the iPad as a laptop replacement, they likely don?t care about expansion, external ports, etc... I?m not sure to what compatibility you refer, nor capability, because it seems to be well designed in both areas FOR ITS INTENDED MARKET. Would people quit bitching about a product that doesn?t affect them in any way? I can?t understand the hostility I?ve seen about the iPad. If it?s not useful to you, don?t buy it. Why do so many people feel the need to actively try to denigrate an innovative product?

jfuller05
jfuller05

I can't see this product going past the home entertainment field. Also, if it doesn't have a physical keyboard, I don't want it. Touch screens, in my opinion, are more harm than good.

mbm29414
mbm29414

@Palmetto: I totally agree with you that whatever your mindset was in January is pretty much the same now. I do see a few things that could sway you slightly in one direction or another. Those are: 1) If you've played with the iPad SDK and seen what kind of features are available (which I have). 2) If you saw an app that's been announced that's right up your alley. To your second point, yes, you are unimaginative. From all of your posts that I've seen on this site (and I've seen a bunch), I'm amazed you can do your job. Every post I remember has been filled with negativity. Your posts always remind me of the stereotypical IT guy, who answers no to everything before the question is even asked. If you really can't see why any business user might consider an iPad, then you're either the most boring, unimaginative soul around, or you've got your head in the sand (or maybe somewhere darker). Here are just a few ways I think the iPad can POSSIBLY succeed in the business market: LogMeIn Ignition. I love this app. Given the size limitations of the iPhone, this app already does everything it can to provide easy, real access to computers on my work network when I'm away. Adding a larger screen, a larger keyboard and a faster processor while still retaining the portability factor and speed of device access, i.e., it's a lot faster than pulling out my laptop and waking it up or booting it up, easily doubles or triples the value of this program.
 I am part of a company creating an iPhone app for the medical industry. Now that we have a device available that allows more screen real estate, it?s opening up a lot of functionality that is either limited or not feasible on the smaller iPhone platform.
 I, for one, am very much looking forward to iWork for the iPad. It looks great (which isn?t that big a deal, I know, but nice nonetheless), and I feel like it has a good shot to make some office document creation tasks easier. For simple, on-the-go spreadsheets or documents, this seems like it could easily be a winner.
 I?m a developer, and as I said in #2, I develop for the iPhone. I also am dabbling in OS X Desktop programs and will expand to the iPad once I get a better feel for how things work and how I want my apps to work. I am very much hoping that someone will put out at least a basic code editor that will, say, allow sharing with a Dropbox folder or something, so that I can do some lightweight code generation/editing/review on-the-go when I don?t have time to sit down for a full session. If I?m waiting for 5 minutes and can have another crack at some programming bug that?s driving me crazy, that would be amazing!!! These are simply 4 items that would help ME with business productivity on an iPad. Are these items worth it for you? Maybe. Maybe not. Will everyone benefit in a business aspect from iPad ownership? Certainly not. Is it a viable business tool for some people? Certainly. I get mine tomorrow (I hope). Will the first thing I do be business-related? Heck, no. Will its primary use be business-related? Maybe, since we?ll be using it in development, but probably not. Yes, it?s a fun toy, but it also has the potential for a lot of business use. If you can?t see that, maybe you?re in the wrong business.

AOS/VS
AOS/VS

The iPad was desiged as a consumer entertainment device. Any apps that help with a nitch business need will be an afterthought. I completely disagree with your opinion of Palmetto. I have always found his views grounded and insightful. Just because he disagrees with you doesn't mean...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Thanks for some concrete example of potential uses for this product. Thanks for not name-calling. ("But he called you 'unimaginative'!" No, I called me 'unimaginative'.) I'm not a developer, so the SDK isn't going to impress me positively or negatively. I understand that you are, but a great development kit isn't a factor that's going to drive business sales outside the Apple development community. As to the apps (and your examples), I haven't seen anything yet that can't already be done on any existing laptop or tablet platform. Yes, those tools weigh more; that's a trade-off I'm willing to make in order to get a physical keyboard, larger screen, and USB ports. As a touch-typist, a virtual keyboard is a no-go. I can see your points if one is comparing this to an iPhone. I'm not; I'm comparing it to a full-featured laptop, because that's the market I understand this device is aimed at. But okay, I'll compare it to the iPhone. No phone, no camera, no 3G connectivity in the initially released model. "...it's a fun toy..." We're in agreement on that; it's a toy. There aren't too many toys I choose to drop $600 on. There aren't any I'm going to suggest the company purchase. I'm unimaginative; maybe you're materialistic?

mbm29414
mbm29414

(Just to make a point, I'm typing this entire response from my iPad) @Palmetto: My point was not to draw a connection between nicer development tools and user appreciation. Here's my point: Device sales are driven by app sales. App sales are driven by good/useful apps. Good apps are easier to make with good tools. Therefore, since Apple has provided a great SDK, good apps should result, which should drive app sales, which should drive device sales. Sure, you'll have some crap apps. Fart apps don't add anything to the marketplace at large, and they certainly don't add anything to the business sector of the marketplace. I have several apps on my iPad, however, that DO allow for greater business productivity, furthering the platform as a whole. I know games don't matter in the workplace; the point was that it was an example where the paradigm of a touchscreen interface was better suited for a particular task. There are several more I could make, including a bunch of business-related ones just from iWork alone. I'm not sure why you think the iPad fails miserably when compared to $500 laptops. Have you used a $500 laptop lately? The cheap-o units we purchased recently are crappy to use. They can do a few tasks relatively well, but they're not great. Plus, if we want to assume that a user will be creating "Office" documents, you have to decrease the price of a "comparable" laptop to compensate for the increased expense to purchase Office vs. iWork for the iPad. So, $500 for the 16GB iPad plus $30 for iWork = $530. $530 minus $150 for the cheapest Office = $380 for a laptop with the same overall cost. Do you really prefer to use a sub-$400 laptop instead? Seems hard to believe for me. Thanks for revising your materialistic comment. I am glad you did so, but I still take issue with the sentiment that someone purchasing a $500 toy is a materialist. I didn't (in this case), but so what if I had? What's wrong with that? Most iPhone users (or Droid, Palm Pre, etc...) will spend well over that within 6 months of signing up. It's possible to spend that much on a single golf club. If you prefer not to do so, fine, but let's not make it an inherently immoral choice to do so. I see this as somewhat of a niche device, too. I don't think it will penetrate business nearly as much as even the iPhone has. It's not a phone (which just about every businessman/woman needs to have anyway) and it's not a laptop (ditto). It's an in-between device that will cover an area that only certain users need covered. So, for the business sector, I see its utility, but also its limited effect. For a home user, I see much more utility (if having a toy/luxury item can be said to be utilitarian). Where I think the real sweet spot is, though, is for small business users (like myself) who can bridge the gap between its usefulness at work and at home. For a user like me, who will use it to be productive at work and have fun at home, its value far exceeds its price.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

But consumers don't care how easy or hard it is for developers to create them. Nice tools matter to the mechanic, but his choices don't factor into my decisions. Manual wrench, air wrench; lift or laying on his back; it doesn't matter to me as long as the oil gets changed. If anything, the SDK may make it TOO easy; are hardware sales driven by a choice between 600 fart apps? Hardly the kind of choice that drives business sales. Games don't matter to me in the workplace either. It may be aimed between phones and laptops, but will businesses accept paying for a third device, along with connectivity fees for it? In today's economy, I have my doubts. As to the price, no, it isn't fair comparing it to a $2500 Macbook. It is fair to compare it with comparably price non-Mac laptops, a comparison I think it fails miserably. Regarding the physical keyboard, you may be willing to sacrifice a physical one in order to reduce the weight. That's a personal choice, one we disagree on. As to the company buying it, I forgot you said you were a developer. I withdraw the materialism charge. Sure, I have hobbies I spend $500 on last year, but that was spread out over most of the year. I don't want to that run up that much of my discretionary spending in one chunk, on a iPad or anything else. We agree this device is good 'FOR SOME USERS'; apparently I think that pool of business users is much smaller than you do. I see this as a niche device.

mbm29414
mbm29414

@Palmetto, OF COURSE a great SDK is going to drive business sales. Exactly how do you think all the cool applications are made? Why do you think there are so many cool applications for the iPod and iPhone (and now, the iPad) where there aren?t for other platforms. I understand that to some extent it?s the fact that Apple has enabled their devices to run these programs, but it?s also due in large part to the ease with which one can create such cool programs. Apple has made it very easy to have attractive, solid, performant programs with user-friendly tools. That will provide higher-quality programs which will drive business sales. Your comment is like saying that nice tools don?t matter to a mechanic. I understand that nice tools don?t make a good mechanic, but bad tools don?t allow good mechanics to work to their full potential. After a few days playing/working with my new iPad, I think your fourth paragraph is wrong. Sure, a full-fledged laptop is going to be able to do most of what the iPad can do. It?s also going to be able to do a lot more. There are, however, a few things that the iPad does that seem cleaner and easier than on a laptop. I understand that it?s not the root market we?re discussing, but the touchscreen games, for example, are really intuitive and fun. For the same type of game, it seems a better fit on the iPad than laptop. I don?t agree, however, that the laptop market is where Apple has positioned this device. If you watched the Keynote address, Steve Jobs was clearly positioning this device BETWEEN iPhones and MacBooks (or smart phones and laptops, if you prefer), And, after true hands-on experience with it, that?s where it fits. No, it can?t replace my MacBook Pro 17? with a 2.8 GHz processor, 4 GB RAM, 320 GB hard drive, etc... I?d love to be able to do some basic code editing on the iPad (and I think I?ll have that ability soon), but it?s not going to be my development machine. I will say, though, that at home and around the office (when I?m moving around), browsing the internet is nice on this device. The Mail app runs like a dream, is easy to use and is very quick. I think that?s the point of the device. It?s not that it?s a full-fledged computing powerhouse; it?s that it does what it does well and quickly. If I want to check my email and have my laptop and my iPad in my backpack, both in sleep mode, it takes far less time and effort to check it on my iPad. If I want to respond to an email, it takes far less time and effort to write it on my iPad than my iPhone. Of course the iPad won?t replace either device, but it?s a great supplement to BOTH devices. So, it seems unfair to compare this device in a 1:1 ratio with either an iPhone or a laptop. By the way, as to the price comparison, my iPad was the $500 version. My iPhone, unsubsidized by AT&T, costs $700. MacBooks start at $1000. My MacBook Pro was $2500. Doesn?t seem fair to compare this device to other devices costing 2-5 times as much. To your point about the virtual keyboard, you?re simply mistaken. I?m not sure if you have experience with virtual keyboards or not. I didn?t. I?m a touch typist and found that it?s quite a bit easier to type on the iPad than I expected. Sure, it?s not as good as a full, physical keyboard, but it?s also a lot easier to carry around the iPad without one. At church on Sunday, I took sermon notes in the ESV HD app on my iPad. In a 45 minute sermon, my notes totaled 1100 words. I was sitting in bleachers. It would have been more comfortable on a desk, but even in bleachers with the iPad on my lap, I was able to keep up and the virtual keyboard in no way hindered my note-taking. Yes, I said it?s a fun toy. Yes, $500-$830 is a lot of money. A few reasons, though, why your charge of materialism is unfounded: I didn?t buy the iPad, my company did. I?m an iPhone/iPad developer and this is a part of my development toolbox. (Would I have bought it myself? I really don?t know.) Even if I weren?t a developer, it?s utility within a business setting more than justifies its purchase FOR SOME USERS. After consideration, I might encourage my boss to have one since it meets a lot of the needs that he has. I wouldn?t ever suggest a company spend $500+ on an unneeded toy. If you don?t do it often, $500 for a toy really isn?t that big a deal, as long as you can afford it. I?m sure most people on this forum have hobbies that have cost them that much in the last year (think golf, camping, gaming, etc...). Can?t wait to get your response.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

I don't see the Apple iPad being anything more than another pain-in-the-ass consumer device being made to fit into a business environment. It won't run our applications, will be almost impossible to protect, and costs more than it should. At least the Fujitsu Ipad has a business function.

mbm29414
mbm29414

Until you have to eat those words.

QAonCall
QAonCall

But the lock in for mobile web (data through ATT only as of now). Storage on the largest device is 64gb at the cost of an i3/i5 laptop that weighs about 3 lbs. After you install anything or import on it, you will need to use cloud for the productivity tools you use daily. Oh, and of course...apple will limit all your applications... I just don't see a fit in the real world of business, unless your CEO's are watching mobile tv, youtube and listening to itunes. MHO

oldbaritone
oldbaritone

Apple ... Apple ... Apple ... Apple Steve is great ... Steve is great ... Steve is great maybe it will work.

jfuller05
jfuller05

I can't stand Mac fanboys/girls. You're right though, if they chant loud enough, maybe Apple will rise to the top, but they won't hear any chanting from me.

MissSensuale
MissSensuale

I see the iPad, I see a virtual cash register and sales brochure at the same time. I've been in business 25 years, and it is my little fantasy that all of our Sales Reps will someday have one. Everything in one place, one fun, easy, incredibly portable place.

mafergus
mafergus

I think marketing wil help Apple in the consumer space, but I am doubtful about the enterprise space. I have heard all the same dreams and aspirations over tablet pcs in multiple industries and have yet to see anything stick. I think the key for apple is if htey can get the bug into the right CEOs/CFOs who would go a long way towards pushing it through IT. I really don't think the spec( or lack therof) are the key for the IPAD

bboyd
bboyd

Locked in to the apple system, your profit is their profit commune.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

So you'd rather Microsoft got it instead? For what he commented on, Microsoft is the only other player for hand-held point of sale devices at the moment, and honestly, they're still buggy. We can only hope that WP7S can fix their problems. Meanwhile, there is no device currently on the market that can serve as POS and Sales Brochure at the same time. I think he's got a great idea.

purnell78
purnell78

I only see a big iphone limited to applications in Apple's App Store. Laptops have been around for years and there are plenty of home grown and retail apps that work perfectly fine for mobile sales reps. Our reps mostly use light 13" laptops that display brochures, allow them to place orders, and aren't limited to applications approved by Apple!

bboyd
bboyd

I'd much rather that it was an open platform and maybe had a standardized port. As for Microsoft, they have their own suite of issues and I weight their merits on an individual basis. Maybe they should "steal" freeBSD code and rebuild their OS on it. as a side note I've used a touch screen windows based toughbook for 5 years now. Great for some things, horrible for others. and i can even drop it...