There is a lot of interesting and important information in a new report from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. The inescapable conclusion is Apple’s iPad is gradually and inexorably becoming a core business tool.
The most persuasive piece of evidence that this is happening isn’t in the raw number of users, which are going up; it's that the users with the fullest-featured iPads are the ones most likely firing them up for business uses. This is how Newsfactor reports on the results:
Twenty-nine percent of iPad buyers with 64 GB of storage use the iPad for business, but of those with 16 GB of storage only 11 percent do. In contrast, 12 percent of iPad buyers with 64 GB of storage use the iPad for entertainment, compared with 32 percent of iPad buyers with 16 GB of storage, and 41 percent of those with 32 GB.
There are a couple of things to consider. For many years, experts have been pointing to the eradication of the line between consumer and professional lives. This extends to life itself — with its increasingly flexible mix of work and pleasure — as well as networks and devices. This study shows that this trend continues.
However, the basic percentages don’t answer one vital chicken-and-egg question: Do people get the brawnier machines because they know they will be using them for work, or are they technically oriented folks who buy them for their own sake, and then find that they help at the office?
It probably is a bit of both. A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Mike Pugh, the vice president of marketing for J2Global. The company had just done a study that touched on the use of iPads by small- and medium-sized businesses. He related his own experiences in iPad adoption. Said Pugh:
I bought one as a personal experiment and fun thing. The more I played around with it the more I used it for business. The iPad has the ability to cross over. It is free or low cost to add apps. People are suddenly adopting it as a business tool. That may be the number one thing in the small business space that gave it a leg up. I would not pay $600 or $700 for a business device, but may be willing to do it for personal use — and then it kind of jumps over.
In its story covering the same CIRP study, AllThingsD makes the point that the device’s Retina screen and 4G connectivity are reasons that its use in business is growing. In general, though, the writer suggests that companies are simply getting accustomed to the idea that the iPad is a suitable business communications tools. The shiny new features are nice, but the core change is that businesses are recognizing the usefulness of the core tablet concept.
BusinessInsider recently ran what appears to be an online survey that generated responses from 2,242 people. The site presents the results as a series of 21 slides. The questions don’t deal directly with business use of the device, but tell an important story anyway.
The bottom line, though, is inescapable: People do just about everything with the iPad. It is unrealistic to think that something this deeply ingrained in how people communicate and entertain themselves will not find equal or greater use at work. Even considering that the self-selected respondents in the BusinessInsider study are likely to be pro-Apple and pro-iPad, the depth of their use of the machines suggests that organizations that try to limit its use are in denial. The much better idea is to find ways for Apple — and, by extension, other tablet users — to employ its devices as securely and cost efficiently as possible.