Apple's New iPad In The Enterprise: Laptop Replacement Gets Closer

Apple's New iPad In The Enterprise: Laptop Replacement Gets Closer

Summary: How will an iPad with much better graphics and a faster network connection affect the enterprise?


As my colleague Sarah Rotman Epps so aptly observes: the third generation of iPad is a gut renovation masquerading as incremental innovation. The new iPad looks basically the same but now carries a snappy 4G radio and a much more powerful graphics processor than its predecessor. The big hardware advance lies in the components, particularly in the graphics processor to handle the high-fidelity Retina display and rapid-response touchscreen control. How will an iPad with much better graphics and a faster network connection affect the enterprise?

Some Forrester data from our workforce surveys and forecasts to set the stage:

In conversations with over 100 CIOs in the past six months, three questions dominate the enterprise tablet to-do list. Here's my take on how the new iPad will change the answers to those questions:

  1. How do I get business applications onto the tablet? With 11% of employees globally using tablets today, developers have powerful incentives to port business apps to touchscreen tablets. Already developers have built 200,000 apps for iPad. 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. And some of that network speed and graphics power will be diverted to translate keyboard/mouse applications to even better virtual machine interfaces from Citrix and VMWare and others.Further, 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. The list of SaaS and software vendors delivering touchscreen business apps is also rapidly expanding and ready to take advantage of the faster network. Cisco WebEx moving into two-way video; QuickOffice is ramping up its spreadsheet program; Adobe Illustrator is unleashed with gestures; even Microsoft is running OneNote on iPad with panache; enhancing its touch. interface. And new-generation mobile engagement vendors like Appian and appsFreedom are handling the refacing and last mile wireless delivery of business apps to tablets. In short, iPads are accumulating business apps at breakneck pace.
  2. Which employees can use tablets instead of laptops? This is the hottest question among cost-conscious CIOs. The answer is simple: executives and sales reps can use tablets instead of laptops today. All others, especially heads-down content creators, will still need a dedicated computer or access to a computer. But even these people are time-shifting towards tablets. Already, US employees with smartphones or tablets do 26% of their work email on them. While the new iPad with its powerful chipset, beautiful screen, 10 hour battery life, instant on, and fast network-seeking smarts makes the post-laptop experience better, I predict the big laptop replacement breakthough could come in the fall when Apple has the opportunty to upgrade the OS to handle touchpad accessories. (Apple should logically do this because it would advance its convergence strategy to simplify and unify the experience across all Apple devices, serivces, and ecosystems.)
  3. How do I support tablets while protecting my company's policies? The new iPad will have a better answer to this question as well. Why? Because the security mechanisms of partitioning the tablet, running a snappy browser over a 4G network, or sandboxing each business app with its own end-to-end safe zone will just work better with a faster network and more powerful hardware. There's much work to do on the part of your security and network operations teams, but the ultimate answer to operate tablets safely is to protect data end-to-end with a redesign of the security and access architecture. Vendors like MobileIron and Airwatch can help.

These improvements are contingent of course on vendors building great touchscreen apps, something that they have cut their teeth doing for Apple devices since 2007. I believe that a critical mass of expertise now exists to build great touchscreen apps. Our recent investigation into mobile engagement showed how companies like, TripIt, Pandora, Box, Dropbox, and QuickOffice can deliver great task-oriented applications that serve people in their moments of decision and action.

Last thought: CIOs wait with hopeful anticipation that Windows 8 tablets will have even better answers to these questions. Well, we'll see. I am not so sure given the employees' willingness to buy their own work equipment the way they buy their own work clothes. The end result of device consumerization is faster innovation and more device diversity. And Apple has a four-year headstart wooing developers to build and sell touchscreen apps. So they beat Microsoft in tablets. What do you think?

Topics: Tablets, Apple, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Networking

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  • They are yet to release any management software what so ever.

    Until then they are just atoy and dumbed down email readers.

    Meanwhile, MS has AD, group policy, SCCM and on and on and on.
    Headstart on hardware because MS doesn't make it, software, not even close.

    Enterprise and Apple shouldn't even be in the same sentence, they are purely consumer single user toys.
    • Is that why the Air Force ordered 18,000 of them? I think not.
      • Look Again

        The AF placed an open order (order as needed) as dedicated task specific devices. Not as pc replacements.
      • @Rhonin

        Kind of like airlines are giving them to pilots to use? Yeah, toys...

        Try again.
      • Doh

        Shouldn't pilots be flying their planes, not updating the facebook status?
      • Those iPads are being used to replace the flight manuals,

        so, basically, they're going to be used as e-readers, and not even close to replacements for any type of PCs.
    • Spoken by a person you never used one

      I'm sorry all of the things you state are server, not client based. Like it or not Apple has a much better client side offering. Whether it be tablet, laptop of desktop or phone for that matter.

      You should ask all the Fortune 500 execs that use iPads with internally written dashboards how much a toy they are. Ask a presenter who's using an iPad how nice it is to do PowerPoint or other presentation. And the list goes on. On the desktop/laptop front, a device that just works, doesn't have to be rebooted monthly or rebuilt annually (OS wise) to insure reliability.

      I used Windows PCs from WFW 3.1-XP and jump ship at Vista. Integrated them with Novel, LanMan, Windows NT, 2000, etc, etc. Microsoft just doesn't get UI design. They refuse to make the tough call to force developers to build decent apps. They refuse to make the tough call to ensure seamlessness.

      One might argue that Apple is a closed system and Microsoft is, at least more, open but at the end of the day when a user can focus 99% of their time running apps instead of worrying about making their system work it's just better.

      If Microsoft were smart, they'd work to integrate the better client into they back office. Apple doesn't play there and doesn't want to.
      • You are absolutely correct

        Definitely, in any organization operating above 50 person level, all of the applications, as well as the security, management, provisioning, etc is handled on the server side. The client side is there to present what is going on in the servers. All of this talk about MS having better management software than Apple is irrelevant. In an organization of any scale, you are not going to be using Apple or MS for any of those features. You are using server side software.
      • GPO's?


        I think that is a pretty flat view of what a working environment is about. Servers provide network services, yes, but all the crunching is done by the client. People at work use Excel, Word, SAP, AutoCAD, Photoshop. You can publish thin apps of course, but I think most people would choose to use a local desktop given the choice and contrary to your statement - most companies do as well. It is simply not true that all applications are run serverside. That used to be the case 30-40 years ago, but as we have moved on a lot since then, it remains to be seen if this will be the preferred model in the future.

        As to management software, clearly it is important. GPO's are widely used to secure client workstations in every way imaginable. On top of this Microsoft have incredibly flexible scripting environments which allow you to use OS components as objects. They also provide generally superb documentation of their products features. There is simply no comparison between the power and ease of a Microsoft system and the alternatives.
    • There are other software companies besides Microsoft and Apple

      Just because Apple does not provide enterprise management capabilities does not mean they do not exist (ask the server side guys if they only use Microsoft tools to manage their MS servers and related security features). Probably not, they use IBM, BMC, CA, etc. Those companies have security, authentication, role access, provisioning, etc solutions for iPads or any other end user device. Managing client devices at the client device layer is the wrong way to go about things. Abstract the function from the end point, so you have one solution for patch management, for instance, for servers, switches, storage, PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc. Otherwise you are going to have multiple tools and processes for the same IT function. There are software providers with solutions on the market today which can provide every management feature, and more, for Apple than MS provides for MS. Apple's enterprise software is a toy, but, frankly, so is Microsoft's software.
      • BMC - hah!

        "Apple's enterprise software is a toy, but, frankly, so is Microsoft's software."

        Well, first of all, Apple do not have any enterprise class software at all. Secondly, management tools are not the same thing as client-server tools. Thirdly, unlike Apple, Microsoft clients and servers make the world go round. Finally, BMC tools are honestly the worst software I have ever seen in my life.
  • You can cut the "fad" garbage now

    It was amusing for the first iPad but statistics like 15.4 million sold last quarter...that is a slap in the face to anyone who says it's just a "fad".
  • Source.....

    PC replacements.......
    What dolts. It is designed for the most part as an additional functional device.
    People who need a pc, or want a pc will get the iPad as a secondary device.
    • Yes, because everyone needs to be in the cult of Ballmer

      Stuck behind your desktop or with a clamshell.
      • You're both wrong.

        Actually you're both wrong. Apple states it's iPad's are Personal Computers.

        Can we stop this post-pc bullcrap.

        And http404. Please stop replying to ever comment on here cheerleading Apple. They have billions of dollars, they can afford better PR than you're giving them.

        Trust me, they won't be giving you a job anytime soon.
      • Oh no, I'll stop because you asked me

        I'm sorry if your Microsoft stock isn't doing well.
  • 21% of all employees globally use at least one Apple device, while 11% use

    Come on.... way to drum up some stats. If you use an iPhone, whether for work or not, you're now thrown into '21% of ALL employees globally'. Give me a stat of people that actually 'need' a laptop for work, and can replace that with an iWhatever.... Good luck with that...
    'everss02' (above) is right on the money!
    • Lies, damn lies, and statistics.

      But you read the article, so it must have worked.
  • Windows 8

    Of course, the question really has to be asked, why not just make a Windows 8 metro app that will work on the laptop and the tablet? Development costs can be decreased dramatically that way. Unfortunately the CEOs will continue to demand iPad apps even if development costs are much higher.
    • Simple answer

      Because they are sticking us with Windows 7 with a Metro UI on it and marketing it as a revolutionary new OS.