One of the interesting questions of the next year or so will be if the lead the iPad has in the consumer tablet computing sector will translate into dominance in the enterprise, or whether other shinny devices, such as the PlayBook from Research in Motion and the Cius from Cisco, will level the playing field.
Valuable insight can be gained by looking back at the iPhone experience. The device burst on the consumer scene and was rather quickly adopted by enterprises both because it is useful and because its portability made it impossible for IT to stop. Subsequently, however, Android came along and has risen to be at least Apple's co-equal.
While that's valuable input, the tablet experience will be a bit different simply because history doesn't repeat itself. For one thing, Android already exists and significant vendors are busily queuing up to take on the iPad. At this point in the development of the iPhone, stunned competitors were just starting to consider their options.
The sense is that the rest of the industry won't be fooled again. Cisco and BlackBerry will compete and so will others. For instance, another new tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, holds its own against the iPad in this review by Alan Reiter. There are no better illustrations of the difference between the advent of the iPhone and the iPad for corporate customers than stories this week at the Bloomberg and Channel Insider sites.
The theme of the Bloomberg story is that the PlayBook is winning corporate customers-even, as the piece points out, months before it launches-because companies are enamored by its security features. This paragraph sums it up:
'The encryption was really the clincher in opting for the PlayBook,' said Tom Reid, a Sun Life senior vice president. Sun Life plans to buy 500 to 1,000 PlayBooks initially and may boost that number as it begins to use it more widely, he said.
It clearly is a different world. When the iPhone stormed the corporate gates, BlackBerry was the reigning champ that took an unexpected drubbing (and still is) due to its stodginess and the sleekness of the new device. It was like an aging boxer whose vulnerability isn't apparent until a strong upstart easily takes him out. In the tablet world, things are a bit reversed: Apple is the incumbent and BlackBerry the upstart-and an upstart known for its security features. It's not a perfect apple-to-blackberry comparison, however, since BlackBerry was long established in the enterprise, while the iPad is less than a year old.
Channel Insider, meanwhile, discusses the bright prospects for the tablet in the business sector. The key, however, is that the story describes the potential success of tablets in general, not just the iPad. Acer, Panasonic, Samsung, Fujitsu, Lenovo, HP, Toshiba, Asus-and, of course, Apple-all are mentioned in one context or another in the piece.
Within that overall context, interesting research is emerging. This week, for instance, Good Technology said that its research shows that the financial services industry, technology and health care led in Good iPad activations. Of Good's user base of more than 4,000 users, financial services led with 36.8 percent of activations, technology followed 11.4 percent and health care had 10.5 percent. The results are interesting, but should be taken under advisement since Good's client base almost certainly isn't comprised of equal numbers of companies from each group.