Apple's hype machine appears to be in great working order, with strong demand apparently exhausting supply and leading to a delay in shipments of the iPad 2. There's no breakdown on how many of the folks snatching up the devices will use them for business purposes, but obviously at least some of them will.
As I wrote back in January, despite a flood of business-ready tablets into the market, most companies planning to purchase tablets intended to buy iPads. That's not likely to change any time soon, even with some industry observers insisting competitors like the Motorola Xoom are better for business than the iPad.
With everyone so tablet-crazy, it's clear IT organizations will need to determine-and soon-how to support iPads and other tablets. What's less clear is whether tablets will provide a viable, long-term, business-oriented alternative to desktops and laptops. Members of silicon.com's CIO Jury voted "no" when asked if tablets would replace other PCs for most business users within five years -- but by a narrow margin of seven to five.
It's hard to see heavy-duty typists or Excel workers migrating with the absence of a hardware keyboard.
Even folks like ZDNet blogger Jason Berlow, who is going into iPad withdrawal after two days without it, seemingly use their tablets to supplement rather than replace their existing PCs.
IT Business Edge contributor Rob Enderle was on to something, I think, when he recently wrote "the tablet as it currently exists will be an unsustainable fad until it blends with the PC for a total solution." He elaborated:
... People simply won't carry two devices in this class and eventually will leave behind the less capable. A device that blends the PC and the tablet better than even the iPad 2 does is where I expect the market to eventually settle.
Enderle cited the Lenovo LePad and Motorola Atrix as signs of the future direction the market may take.
At least one member of silicon.com's CIO Jury agrees with Enderle. Says Stephen Potter, CIO at World-Check:
I think it's fair to say that a dockable tablet will increasingly replace the traditional laptop-desktop environment for enterprise users with some sort of mobility requirement. Screen size and keyboard requirements will continue to constrain the pure tablet form factor for enterprise users however, opening the door to hybrids that give the ease of use of a tablet with the ergonomics of a laptop.