Apple maneuvers for enterprise market with Cisco, iPad Pro announcements

Apple's recent announcements that it's introducing a larger iPad and teaming with Cisco to enhance iOS wireless communications are signs that the company is serious about growing its enterprise presence.

iPad Pro

By now, you've most likely read that Apple and Cisco are teaming to enhance iOS performance on Cisco-powered business networks. In addition to optimizing the Cisco Spark, Telepresence, and WebEx services on iOS devices, the two firms are collaborating to improve voice and video integration between their products, thereby making it easier for businesses to replace full-fledged desktop and laptop computers with Apple's new iPad Pro.

Apple's new iPad Pro boasts a 12.9-inch display, a fast A9X CPU, and an optional stylus and optional Smart Keyboard. Despite Steve Jobs' infamous dismissal of an iOS stylus, some business users (graphic artists, for example) desire the instrument. Multitudes, meanwhile, need a full keyboard.

I've previously examined how well Apple's smaller iPads compare to Microsoft's Surface devices. Apple's recent Cisco and iPad Pro announcements strengthen the case for new larger iPads replacing desktop and laptop computers.

Certainly, it's easy to predict that iOS tablets--especially Apple's new iPad Pro possessing a large display, multitasking capability, Microsoft Office compatibility, and full-fledged cloud support--will increasingly replace users' laptop and desktop computers. It's an apparent trend that, working as an IT consultant, I already witness when regularly visiting clients, attending meetings at third-parties' offices, and meeting with vendors and suppliers.

If you're a numbers person, Charles McLellan breaks down the statistics in his Tech Pro Research article, "Apple's enterprise tablet challenge: Does the iPad Pro measure up?" The big question for me isn't "Will Apple sell a lot of iPad Pros?" (they most assuredly will) but "Will the new iPad Pro make inroads within businesses at the expense of traditional laptop and desktop computers?" As Charles notes, the iPad Pro is being released at a particularly poignant time in the iOS lifecycle, when iPad sales are decreasing, even though Apple maintains a compelling (and leading) 24.5% tablet market share. If I had to place a bet, I'd wager that, as businesses increasingly invest in large-format tablets that possess the power to replace desktop and laptop computers, the tablet device's capabilities, combined with Cisco enhancements that enable the Apple iOS devices to perform even better within enterprise environments, will result in more businesses purchasing fewer desktops and laptops.

Just how serious might Apple be regarding the shift from traditional desktops and laptops? The Wall Street Journal notes the Mac was a "no show" at Apple's recent big event. The Journal's Wakabayashi's piece notes that, even though the Mac is enjoying robust sales, it's "a small player in a declining industry." Wakabayashi concludes that Apple is now a mobile products company, which means much is at stake with the new iPad Pro.

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By Erik Eckel

Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president o...