Five Factors to Consider in Deploying the iPad in Your SMB

Paul Mah

Much has already been written about the Apple iPad and its suitability -- or not -- in business. As with every tool, a proper evaluation considers both its strengths and weaknesses. To help SMBs that are considering integrating the iPad into their businesses, I highlight five factors to consider.


Long Battery Life


The runtime of the iPad is nothing short of phenomenal, a fact that is proven time and again in independent tests. While it is increasingly possible to purchase laptops that can operate from batteries for eight or more hours, this is usually achievable only with the use of bulky, extended-life batteries. In many cases, running demanding multimedia content or processor-intensive applications will shave many hours off the estimated runtime of laptops.


In contrast, the battery endurance of the iPad breaks the 10-hour barrier with ease-even when playing video. This ability to run for an entire business day without recharging is a differentiating factor that SMBs can tap into.


Instant-On Capability


Like the iPhone and iPod Touch running the same iOS operating system, the iPad switches on instantly. This beats even a solid-state drive-equipped Windows 7 laptop by a wide margin. And the fact is that users are far amenable to using devices that are immediately accessible versus one that takes up to a couple of minutes to first "boot up."


Inability to Secure


Unlike laptops and even many desktops machines out there, the iPad doesn't come with any mechanism such as Kensington security slots to secure the hardware. While alternative solutions can always be found, their costs are invariably higher-something to bear in mind should deploying the iPad in publicly accessible places be necessary.


Single Tasking


For all the "magic" of having an instant-on touchscreen tablet as portable as the iPad, the truth is that Apple's tablet is pretty much a single-tasking device. And I'm not referring to its lack of multi-tasking capabilities here.


Unlike workstations running Windows or even the Mac OS, the design philosophies behind the iOS mean that applications are generally created to stand alone. While it is entirely possibility to switch between applications, the experience is hardly optimal due to the monolithic process flow. As such, small and mid-sized businesses looking to use the iPad need to design the flow-logic within their applications accordingly.


Wireless-Only Connectivity


Unlike desktop workstations or practically every laptop or netbook, the iPad's connectivity is solely wireless only. Wi-Fi is essentially the de facto connectivity option in just about every deployment scenario.


While Wi-Fi is generally easy to set up and use, SMBs need to consider it from a reliability and security point of view, followed by the appropriate application of mitigation strategies. In fact, I wrote a couple of blogs on this topic, such as selecting the right Wi-Fi hardware for your SMB, and also on what SMBs need to know before deploying Wi-Fi. In addition, David Callisch, VP of marketing of Ruckuss Wireless also contributed some pointers on common mistakes that SMBs make when deploying Wi-Fi.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Sep 1, 2010 9:41 AM Mgawryn Mgawryn  says:

Your assertion that the iPad is wireless access only is incorrect. The 3G version is always and anywhere Internet connected, making it more versatile than most netbooks and notebooks.

Sep 5, 2010 8:20 AM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to Mgawryn

@Mgawryn Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I am aware that there is a 3G version of the iPad, though I consider Wi-Fi to be more practical since using wireless data will incur additional charges. Apologies if I skimmed on my explanation here, since I assumed the knowledge of the iPad 3G to be well-known. (In fact, I am using the iPad 3G/Wi-Fi) Regardless, both 3G and Wi-Fi are wireless in nature.

Sep 10, 2010 7:03 PM jdobson jdobson  says: in response to Paul Mah

On the 3G/WIFI front, I believe that there is a big difference.  3G is reliable, and WIFI is for the most part, unreliable, in that it disconnects RDP sessions or access while going in and out or range, switching AP, etc. 

I have deployed iPads on waterfront port sites, and 3G has superseded the WIFI infrastructure entirely, as with 3G the connection always works, therefore the solution always works.   The bottom line is that 3G actually costs less than supporting a WIFI infrastructure of mid-large scale.

I would also add VPN to secure connectivity, use of RDP to access windows sessions and finally how to lock it down, so whitelist(approved) browsing happens only.

A great article nonetheless.

Sep 12, 2010 6:41 PM Paul Mah Paul Mah  says: in response to jdobson

@jdobson Enjoyed reading your contribution; you sound like you had lots of experience deploying the iPad in business environments.

I'm curious though, as to your experience of 3G being more reliable than Wi-Fi.  Interestingly, my experience is the reverse - I've always enjoyed excellent throughput and latency with Wi-Fi.

Would you be able to share more about your experience with Wi-Fi/iPad deployments? Did you use consumer or business APs? Do drop me an e-mail (paulmah at gmail). Look forward to hear from you

Sep 13, 2010 6:53 PM jdobson jdobson  says: in response to Paul Mah

Hi Paul,

On industrial sites, wifi is hard to manage, with all the buildings/electrical equipment running, so moving to 3G improved that.  That experience is dramatically different than wifi at home or in the office.

Added though, I was in a Starbucks speaking with a customer and integrator about a new project.   I had my ipad with me.  What amazed them(and myself), was that I was able to turn the device on and have it work immediately, connect with no issues (again with 3G instead of shared WIFI) (important for must work sales demos).  It showed that to the customer that I knew what I was doing and I could execute.   I was able to check websites for pricing with them, give them a demo via RDP, and open a PowerPoint deck.  I have been in loads of these situations before and demos sometimes fail, and because of that failure, sometimes you don't get the project.  With the ipad, I have every confidence that the occurrence of that failure will be less likely.  Customers will also understand the concepts better with visuals and real world examples.

Don't get me wrong, Wifi has it's place, but it is great to know that you have another method in 3G, when required.


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