The iPad 2 Is Continuing to Redefine Enterprise IT

Carl Weinschenk

One of the more interesting takes on how Apple's iPad 2 fits into the enterprise was posted at CIO. The intriguing part of the story isn't what it says about the device itself, though the writer does spend some time discussing what the company does and doesn't like about it; rather, the story looks at the replacement of the iPad with the iPad 2 within the context of the PC replacement cycle:

Jeff Letasse, VP of IT for Conceptus, a Silicon Valley medical device manufacturer, says that pressure isn't all bad news. In fact, he says the Apple upgrade cycle has some advantages over the old PC refresh cycle. Despite the fact that iPad 2's features haven't wowed him, he's already ordered 30 iPad 2 3G devices for top sales executives.

To some extent, the juxtaposition of replacing iPads and the PC refresh cycle is just a handy comparison. But it is handy for a reason: Increasingly, tablets -- with perhaps an assist from a smartphone -- are replacing PCs. As the importance of these devices grows, it is only reasonable that IT departments start thinking about how to move products in and out in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.

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In any case, IT departments need to be ready for an increasing number of iPads. ZDNet's Eric Lai is less than thrilled with the innovations of the iPad 2, but he nonetheless predicts that the device will continue growing in enterprise use. He sums up what could "charitably be labeled" enterprise additions: a faster processor, videoconferencing capabilities and an HDMI video-out for presentations. Those aren't too much, and he links to a v3.co.uk story in which IDC analyst Bob O'Donnell suggests that the camera actually is a liability due to the security concerns it adds.

Regardless, Lai wrote, iPads will continue to grow at work due to the "bring-your-own-device" trend, increased application-programming interfaces (APIs) made possible by iOS 4, the size of the ecosystem supporting the OS, the lower cost and the availability of apps. It's interesting to note that one of Lai's points-the growth of individual-liable devices-will change how an organization looks at hardware refreshes and replacement cycles, simply because it can't change out something that it doesn't own.

Apple was dismissive of the enterprise when the iPhone launched, and it is continuing down that road with the iPad. Earlier this month, Forbes' Elizabeth Woyke wrote an interesting post on the topic. There seem to be two interrelated reasons that Apple is treating businesses with a bit of benign neglect: It can-people will bring the iPad 2 to work in any case, just as they did with the iPhone and original iPad-and there is a healthy ecosystem of companies rushing in to provide the features that businesses need in the aftermarket. To be fair, the iPad 2 does have some features that Apple says are aimed at corporate users, but the feeling is that it's a desultory effort.

A lot has changed in corporate adoption of consumer products, and those changes will continue with the iPad 2 and other tablets. The good news is that IT departments, by and large, appear to understand that things have changed since the iPhone came out on the scene in 2007 and seem willing to adjust how they do business.

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