When the iPad 2 was announced, I wrote that Apple's tablet would continue its enterprise invasion despite the dearth of overtly business-focused features. The same goes for the new iPad, or what I like to call in homage to Pulp Fiction, 'Le iPad Nouveau.'
I expect this new iPad to be even more popular inside businesses. Here's why.
1) This arms salespeople and field workers with an even sleeker, no-compromises post-PC device. Quadruple the screen sharpness of the iPad 2. Quadruple the processing power. Up to 73 Mbps via 4G LTE. All at less than half the weight of a your typical laptop.
Chris McClain, executive vice-president for global mobility solutions at SAP, attended this morning's event at Apple. He imagines a bunch of benefits for field workers from the new iPad. "You may have service personnel taking pictures of equipment using the higher-resolution camera. Or a Consumer Packaged Goods salesperson doing the same thing inside a supermarket. Or a company like Boston Scientific, which has 4,000 salespeople using iPads. They'll now be able to show even more detailed medical diagrams and higher-res videos about patient benefits."
The LTE-enabled iPads come with 3G/4G support on multiple carriers. That is important for field service workers, who often work in remote areas where connectivity is either slow, or wholly lacking. Even starting at $629 for the LTE-enabled models, this is far less expensive than alternatives like ruggedized Windows tablets.
2) This will accelerate the Consumerization of IT (CoIT) overall. I see two main indicators for how Consumerization is progressing: sales of PCs versus 'post-PC' devices such as iPads and smartphones, and the growth of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). On the former, Apple is doing great. It sold 172 million iPads, iPhones and iPod touches in 2011, including 62 million in the Christmas quarter alone. Its Q4 2011 iPad sales of 15.5 million were larger than any other PC vendor's total PC sales. I expect this to continue to accelerate.
As for BYOD, it's already hugely popular. According to analyst firm Strategy Analytics, BYOD tablets comprise four-fifths of the tablets used inside companies today. Tablets are still mostly secondary devices today. But as Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler wrote in his headline today, "laptop replacement gets closer."
3) The new iPad will drive developers to build even more powerful, more Gamified business apps. While some users still complain about the iPad's lack of a keyboard, the majority see it as a fair tradeoff for the easy, fast and fun usability of touchscreen apps. With power under the hood that rivals modern laptops, the new iPad will both attract more developers as well as further raise the bar for app quality.
"Every systems integrator is building mobile interfaces to SAP applications to handle the needs of field sales, executives in meetings, and normal joes like us," wrote Schadler. "With a faster network connection and more power in the touchscreen interface, the new iPad can take on more business workloads: graphics, video, browser apps."
4) Enterprises now have no excuses about not managing their devices. BYOD has allowed many companies, especially smaller ones, to avoid having the "Which Mobile Device Management (MDM) vendor am I going to use?" Sure, there will be some enterprises like Bank of Mellon that will somehow get by using only Microsoft ActiveSync. But for every one else, the new iPad's more powerful camera, faster processor and networking and other features mean that traveling workers will be able to more easily rack up thousands of dollars in roaming bills, have vital corporate data more easily stolen, and take confidential pictures inside a company's facility.
Apple released the Apple Configurator today, free software to help businesses mass configure and deploy iPhones, iPads and iPod touches. This can do the basic work of setting up secure settings, and/or prepare iPads to be managed by a more in-depth MDM software. The latter path is the way companies that care anything about security need to travel.
The new iPad should be a wakeup call for IT managers that have been procrastinating over which MDM software will best secure their corporate data and impose the right usage and expense management policies on their mobile devices.