I spent several minutes last weekend eyeing the new iPad. While most of us might think of it as the iPad 3, Apple insists on the device simply being called "iPad," leading to a bit of marketing confusion. I was on vacation in Naples, FL, and the local Apple store had an airport-style retractable barrier, two police officers, and a swarm of staff, looking more like a hipster nightclub than an electronics store.
The store was crowded, but it had plenty of devices available for purchase. As I walked toward the table of demo units, my mind was swimming in the superlatives about the new "retina" display. Like all things Apple marketing, I half expected to stare into the eyes of God or discover the meaning of life as my fingers first brushed the latest product designed in Cupertino and built by Foxconn.
There's a surfeit of detailed reviews about the new device on the Internet, but upon first glance, the marquee feature of the device -- its screen -- is an improvement, but not a dramatic one. I personally found the higher-resolution display of the iPhone 4 vs. the iPhone 3 to be more noticeable than the new iPad. For the latter, it was more "Oh, that's nice" than "WOW, that's amazing."
The size and heft of the tabets are quite similar, and I'd guess when subjected to the "grandma test," the iPad 2 and new iPad would likely be assumed to be the same device. This, of course, begs the question of where Apple goes from here, aside from "feature porn"-driven upgrades, but that's a discussion for another article.
The other improvements to the device are equally blasé for enterprise users, ranging from a better camera and marginally faster processor, to improved cellular data capabilities via 4G networks. Frankly, the biggest news for the enterprise brought about by the new iPad is the price drop on the iPad 2, which is a very capable device, unless your company absolutely needs a high resolution screen or faster mobile data.
One of the biggest impediments to tablet adoption in the enterprise is a lack of applications. Essentially, organizations are hesitant to buy tablets without knowing exactly what business problem they're going to solve. As with any young technology, this becomes a bit of a chicken and egg problem: without compelling applications, no one is buying tablets, and without a large pool of tablet deployments, no one is writing enterprise tablet applications. Since the iPad 2 is getting what amounts to a 20% drop in sticker price, we're pushing ever deeper into commodity price territory, where buying a few tablets strictly for experimentation makes more sense.
With the initial sales estimates of the new iPad continuing to hit robust highs, it's becoming safer to assume that tablets are far more than a passing fad that will soon go the way of the netbook. Companies from retailers to airlines are successfully deploying tablets, and putting these devices into the hands of your most creative technologists is still the best way to deploy this technology to solve your particular business problems. With the market leader's last generation product becoming a bit more accessible, the time just may be now to set about that task in your organization.
Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company, and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology, as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion. Patrick has spent over a decade providing strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow his blog at www.itbswatch.com. All opinions are Patrick's alone, and may not represent those of his employer.