Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

Summary: The enterprise tablet market has its own quirks that can open doors---and maybe market share---for Apple challengers such as HP, RIM, Samsung, Motorola and others.


The tablet parade is kicking into high gear as HP's TouchPad becomes available for sale July 1. HP joins RIM, Motorola, Samsung and a bevy of others in a long line of companies trying to compete with Apple's iPad. What's the master plan for these rivals: Juice enterprise sales.

It's quite possible that tablet makers could fare well by becoming business players as Apple runs away with the consumer market. The consumer market is ruled by price and performance (and more the former). Given that most Apple rivals are pricing their tablets exactly the same as the iPad, it's going to be tough to win over customers.

In other words, rivals aren't telling us why their tablets are necessarily better than the iPad, which enjoys good word of mouth marketing.

The enterprise is a bit of a different story. In fact, the enterprise tablet market has its own quirks that can open doors---and maybe market share---for challengers. Simply put, the enterprise isn't going to sweat pricing differences as much. Why? There's volume discounting and bundles. For instance, HP could sell a slew of TouchPads in an enterprise PC deal. RIM can toss in PlayBooks with a smartphone or BlackBerry Enterprise Server upgrade. Motorola and Samsung could get their tablets to companies via carriers. Dell can move its Streak tablets via healthcare services deals with its Perot Systems unit.

Apple can---and does---play the corporate game to a degree, but isn't exactly known for its volume discounts. Apple also doesn't have an enterprise bundle to sell. Apple has a small enterprise swat team that targets verticals like legal and convinces them to go with the iPhone-iPad juggernaut.

But when push comes to shove, tablet challengers like HP are better equipped to sell you a tablet on the cheap and make up the different on services, maintenance or some other revenue stream.

Integration also matters for enterprises, which is why Microsoft can become a tablet player despite sitting out the first and second waves in the industry. If Microsoft can integrate with Office, SharePoint, SystemCenter and legacy apps better than any other tablet maker it has a good enterprise chance ahead.

If you assess the moving parts, Apple's enterprise tablet effort revolves around consumerization. Workers are bringing the iPad to the office and the C-suite has bought in. Apple on its earnings conference calls will highlight a bevy of companies piloting or deploying the iPad.

But consumerization only goes so far. The challengers' best shot will be the enterprise. In corporations, the tablet game is more about RIM vs. HP, Samsung vs. Motorola and Dell working the verticals.

With that backdrop out of the way, I created a crib sheet for the enterprise tablet field.

Apple's iPad. The iPad currently dominates the tablet market and has largely gained in the enterprise due to consumerization. And CIOs like the device and carry them around while leaving the laptops at home. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said in April:

Employee demand for iPad in the corporate environment remains strong, and CIOs continue to embrace iPad in an unprecedented rate. In just over a year since its debut, 75% of the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying iPad within their enterprises. Some recent examples of enterprises that are deploying iPad include Fortune 500 companies such as Xerox, AutoNation, YUM! Brands, ADP, Boston Scientific, Estee Lauder, Disney, Stryker, Prudential Financial, Rite Aid, and USAA.

  • Strengths: Market share and consumerization.
  • Weaknesses: Apple isn't likely to cut deals and doesn't have an enterprise bundle opportunity beyond the iPhone.

RIM's PlayBook. On its latest earnings conference call, RIM executives touted a bevy of enterprise pilots. RIM is also tight with SAP, which happens to be mobile app happy. RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said that the 7-inch PlayBook "is now in the hands of over 1,500 enterprise customers in progressive stages leading to full deployment." Cisco, Citrix, IBM, HP and SAP are integration partners and are planning joint sales efforts. Verizon will also sell the PlayBook into the enterprise.

  • Strengths: RIM can bundle the PlayBook with the BlackBerry and has an already established corporate base.
  • Weaknesses: Consumerization, Apple and Android are eating away at RIM's market share. Can RIM get corporate apps lined up for its QNX OS?

HP's TouchPad. The TouchPad will feature the WebOS and interact well with HP's printers and PCs. Unlike the PlayBook, HP is going for a 10-inch screen, integration with Google Docs and Web-based services.

  • Strengths: HP can bundle the TouchPad in PC deals, layer the device into broader enterprise hardware packages and use its services unit to integrate the tablet.
  • Weaknesses: The WebOS is slick, but lacks the app numbers and developer base. It's unclear how the WebOS will work with apps from the likes of SAP and Oracle.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab. Samsung is building in support for Cisco's SSL VPN, managing devices via Exchange ActiveSync and encrypting hardware. Toss in partnerships with Polycom, Citrix, SAP and others and Samsung has some enterprise mojo.

  • Strengths: Samsung can deliver pallets of Galaxy Tabs at a discount. Samsung's Galaxy Tab is probably the best known Android tablet among consumers.
  • Weaknesses: Samsung doesn't have the enterprise sales and services arm that RIM and HP enjoy. Samsung would likely depend on carriers to distribute into the enterprise.

Motorola Xoom: The Xoom hit the market early and in many respects was unrefined. Motorola took the brunt of Android Honeycomb 3.0 glitches.

  • Strengths: Motorola has enterprise relationships.
  • Weaknesses: The Xoom took a beating out of the gate and that will affect perception.

Dell's Streak devices. Dell is pushing the Streak---5-inch and 7-inch tablets---into the healthcare industry.

  • Strengths: Dell can tack the Streak onto a broader stack of healthcare IT tools.
  • Weaknesses: Dell has been relatively quiet about its tablet plans.

The big wild-card for all of these enterprise players is Microsoft. As detailed before, Microsoft could develop a Windows 8 tablet that could leverage its existing base of enterprise wares. A lightweight tablet that leverages Office and PowerPoint well could be the killer app for businesses. If these Microsoft tablets are truly ready for prime-time, look for Dell to be a big ally.


Topics: Laptops, Apple, Hardware, Hewlett-Packard, iPad, Mobility, BlackBerry, Samsung, Tablets

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  • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

    Larry, so much of the discussion of MP3 players, mobile phones and tablets is restricted only to the individual devices, which is somewhat misleading (though certainly not intentionally). In my opinion, more emphasis need to be given to the eco-system, or lack of, in which the device will work. And that is particular problem for WebOS, Meego, Bada and the like. A person may consider that an iPod touch is the best MP3 player for their needs, that WP7 phone is best for them and that a TouchPad suits them just fine . . and then the problems begin!<br><br>Hence, the problem for the TouchPad - no ecosystem. As far as I am aware, there are, at the moment, no WebOS mobile phones and none on the horizon. Anyone who purchases a TouchPad needs to purchase some other mobile phone. So, when apps are downloaded on the TouchPad, those will only work on the TouchPad. If the user wants the same app for their phone (assuming that it exists), then they have to download it separately. That is alright for anyone who is only going to download free apps, but if the user is going to purchase those, then it means two purchases. It would be a rather unusual (and rich) person who is willing to pay double, or triple) for all of their apps! :-)
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

      You mentioned "no WebOS mobile phones and none on the horizon"...

      You are incorrect. The Pre3 which BTW offers touch to share tech with the TouchPad is about to be launched in the next few weeks....
      • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different


        Thankyou. I wasn't aware of that.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different


      There have been like four for two years. A new one is out this month, I think. It depends. HP has screwed this up before. They, for instance, didn't allow 95% of the iPaqs they made to be used internally. WTF, right? If HP is smart, they'll realize that the key to their multi-billion dollar investment in WebOS is $20 million to give every HP employee a $200 Touchpad.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

      Ground Hog Day!

      All the following comments make sense in themselves, or to themselves.

      Wind back to the smartphone introduction and just about every comment can be transposed. The fact is that if you are sitting down to do your work, you don't 'need' a Tablet. If your job requires you to be on your feet and you do 'need' to interact with IT resources, then a Tablet will increase productivity and every business will recognise this over time... just like the smartphone.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

      You make an excellent point and highlighted the exact reason I have not yet bought a tablet. I wish the manufacturers understood that building communications components, instead of singular machines for singular uses, would result in much greater customer loyalty and productivity.
  • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

    Tablets in the enterprise will not be as big as one thinks. Its not going to be mainstream. Its going to be specific to a few niche jobs such as warehouse inventory. There is no appeal to them. Users have blackberries and laptops, the latter which is much more capable than a tablet. Also the enterprise IT will want to lock that tablet down with policies. Its not a viable option.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

      @LoverockDavidson I was in corporate meeting yesterday. Three of the five attendees had tablets. All iPads by the way. I also did a video shoot at a government round table in early June. About 500 attendees. They were supplied 2 iPads at each table. They are already everywhere in the enterprise.
      • Patience please

        It may well be that iPads are everywhere in the enterprise, but those of us who wish to see a bright future for the Microsoft Coporation are required to keep stating that tablets are unsuitable for business use and have no future in corporate IT.

        Don't worry, Windows 8 will eventually ship, and when it does we will suddenly switch gears and promote tablets, running Windows of course, as the answer to all problems not solved by the Xbox.
        Robert Hahn
      • Everywhere? Really?

        I rarely see them myself. We actually did buy two of them, one each for our CFO and General Manager. Our CFO has a son who is a Mac fan, and at his urging we brought in the two to evaluate. At first, the iPads went everywhere with them. Later on, when I didn't see them as much, I asked the CFO about it. His comment was that, while he personally liked the device, he actually found few work related uses for the machine. He even went so far as to issue a notice that he would not approve any more for our organization.

        We also have two department heads who purchased Playbooks on their own, with similar results. Fun devices to travel with, but just not that useful in our world that revolves around Word, Excel, and mainframe apps. Of course, every enterprise is different, but in our case tablets, whether iPads or the others, just are not a good fit at this time.
      • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

        @CowLauncher <br><br>Seeing them is one thing. How are they used is QUITE another. <br><br>I see iPad's at work and I know they are using the guest network, because we dont allow them on the corporate LAN. They can get access to things like OWA/Exchange just like a smartphone can....provided they sign a waver and allow policies to be inforced, like remote wipe. It usually stops them cold. Also our developers are not spending 1 second on iPad app development for internal or external users.<br><br>I do think Windows 8 devices will be more popular, because they can be controlled by the same tools (SCCM) as the corporate Windows desktops/laptops. Add to that they will run Office and allow file managment (network shares etc), work well with Sharepoint (IE browser) etc. It is not rocket science to predict this.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different


      The existing form factors of the iPad, PlayBook etc I think are good for things like inventory and hospitals, and it would be useful to have a couple in meeting rooms so people at the far end of the room don't have to squint at some fuzzy projector, but I can't see them displacing the laptop as the portable productivity tool of choice. My view is that the main killer features of tablets in the enterprise will be integrated into the next generation of devices. Whether this means tablets with keyboard docking stations becoming the norm, or touch-enabled laptops with screens that can be pivoted I don't know.
    • Tablets in the Enteprise

      Hi @LoverockDavidson,

      Alex from RIM here. To add my .02 to this, I think one of the key advantages that tablets bring to the table is portability ? key for busy businesspeople who are always on-the-go.

      So, while we?ve packed the PlayBook?s 7-inch frame with enterprise-grade functionality such as remote PC access, secure VPN access and document viewing and editing, it all fits into a form factor that fits easily into your pocket or purse. Its size also makes it easy to use one-handed or to ?thumb type? like you would on a smartphone.

      Here?s a great video highlighting some potential use cases of the PlayBook for enterprise (

      Alex, RIM Social Media Team
  • The Enterprise is different

    And the ultimate winner will be the one who addresses Enterprise level management of devices as well as device encryption.

    These are the two pilars that will bring a clear advantage to the system for Enterprise adoption.

    And while the e-mail and light web browsing are an obvious point for these light tablets, most people need a system capable of all the other work they need to do.

    So the third pilar is to get most business applications (incuding a full featured office product compatible with MS Office) working on one.
  • Volume Purchase of iPads

    Im not usually one to correct, but our institution just bought a 10 pack of iPad 2s and got 200 dollars off, so to say apple does not offer volume discounts is not a true statement.
    • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different


      $200 off the entire order of 10 iPad's or $200 off each iPad?

      Big difference.

      10 low end iPad's at $500 each = $5000. $200 off (or $20 each) just doesn't seem like discounting like me. In CA, that wouldn't even cover the sales tax.
  • The strategy's success depends on how well Apple's

    competitors can play to the anti-Apple bigotry in various IT departments.
  • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

    Hold the presses. The competition actually has a chance against Apple and iPad! Every article I have read has reached the conclusion that the iPad rules and will rule forever. Its a perfect device, everyone knows how to use it, its got this ecosystem, and zillions of apps. The competition has zip, nada, zero going for it. How could possibly be?
  • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

    I sorry, the people who originally brought iPad into the enterprise were the CEO's and VP's, and their wives, who had the money to burn on this when launched last year.

    iPad rules in enterprise as well, due to this.
  • RE: Assessing the corporate tablet field: Why the enterprise may be different

    I think RIM and HP have a shot here because a lot of my MSP partners (IT Solutions Providers) have their SMB and enterprise customers tied in to their hardware.

    ...yet I add my opinion via IPad. :)