iPad paves the way for coming tablet invasion

The adoption of the iPad into the corporate culture signals an acceptance of tablet PCs

The Apple iPad has been embraced by businesses much faster than its iPhone predecessor. That acceptance is primarily a result of the success of the iPhone, but it also opens the door for iPad competitors to enter the business world more easily once they're available.

A report from the Wall Street Journal states "The company's tablet-style device seems to be sidestepping the resistance that the iPhone and other consumer-oriented devices have faced in the corporate environment. Indeed, many businesses have raced to snap up iPads."

The iPad has a jumpstart on other tablets in two ways. First, it has the advantage of riding the coattails of business adoption of the iPhone. Second, it has the benefit of being first to market among the next-generation tablets.

Because the iPad is built on the same iOS foundation as the iPhone, companies that have accepted the iPhone and integrated the management and security of the smartphone into the IT infrastructure can embrace the iPad without the same degree of apprehension that greeted the iPhone. It doesn't hurt that Apple has also significantly improved the business functionality and security of iOS since its launch either.

Apple bashers and tablet naysayers have spent the greater part of 2010 declaring that the iPad is a toy that has no functional computing purpose, and that tablets--particularly tablets that don't run "real" operating systems like Windows 7--can't possibly provide any business value. The reality is the exact opposite.

Apple sold more than three million iPads in the first 80 days following its launch, and Apple reported in July that half of the Fortune 100 companies are testing or deploying the iPad. The tablet has an array of mobile computing functions, but it is particularly suited for situations like car dealerships or furniture stores where the salespeople can make use of a portable touchscreen platform when engaging customers.

The good news for competitors like Samsung, HP, and Asus, is that other tablets get to stand on the shoulders of previous technology as well. The fact that the iPhone blurred the line between consumer and business--and broke down corporate barriers--paved the way for Android and other smartphones to enter the corporate culture much easier.

The acceptance of the iPad into the business world will open doors for the tablets that follow. Now that Apple has laid the foundation and opened up the possibilities for transforming mobile computing, tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab can follow in the iPad's footsteps--but also learn from its mistakes--and push the envelope of what tablets are capable of as business tools.

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Tony Bradley

PC World (US online)
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