iPad and UMDs set for business adoption

Dawn of the ultra-mobile device

While Apple's iPad, a device belonging to the ultra-mobile device (UMD) category, is all the rage among consumers, enterprise suppliers are already preparing it for business use, even though UMDs add even more support and control complexity for IT managers currently trying to manage an expanding base of smartphone platforms such as the iPhone 4.

Cisco, for example, is marketing its Cisco WebEx Meeting Center application for the iPad.

ABI Research forecasts worldwide UMD adoption averaging 55 percent per year as businesses find many uses for ultra-mobile devices, a category which includes netbooks, smartbooks and mobile Internet devices (MIDs).

Enterprise practice director Dan Shey comments: "Differing from smartphones and laptops, ultra-mobile devices offer a few highly desired feature and application capabilities in tablet and clamshell form factors.

"Businesses will be attracted to these devices for the same reasons as consumers - their larger screens, LAN and WWAN connectivity, and most importantly, low cost."

But UMDs are not necessarily "business ready." The smartbook device concept does not offer x86 processor architectures and is almost entirely without the Windows OS.

Currently little attention has been given to ruggedization, which will limit their usefulness in more austere environments. And in many emerging markets, 3G connectivity is not prevalent.

Shey adds, "'Business-ready' is a relative term. The web browser will be sufficient for some business use cases. Encapsulating, protective shells may provide sufficient ruggedization for tablet form factors.

"Some businesses will value low price and limited functionality more than highly functional 'heavy OS' devices.

"Ultimately, UMD adoption will be driven by a greater availability of business applications, and platforms and services that ease device management and support and enhance data security."

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