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Three things Apple should do to get more iPads in the enterprise

The iPad is hitting the enterprise to some extent. If Apple is willing to go outside of its comfort zone, these three actions could have iPads hitting the workplace in bigger numbers.

With iPad sales reportedly tapering off, Apple should set its sight on the enterprise. It’s a big market, and has room for increased sales for the iPad Air 2. It could do that if Apple is willing to go along with three things.

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Image: Apple

Apple is already moving in the right direction to get its devices in the enterprise with its recent alliance with IBM. 

See related:  Inside the Apple-IBM deal: How will it work, and what to expect

IBM's expertise with enterprise issues, coupled with Apple's ability to produce apps with good mobile user experiences, will no doubt be popular in the corporate world.

But there are three other things Apple can do, independent of its IBM partnership, to increase the iPad's enterprise presence. These actions will be controversial, as Apple doesn’t normally conduct business this way. It will also have to swallow its pride and prepare for a big reaction to these practices. If it's willing to take these three steps, this writer believes Apple will see iPads all over the workplace.

Mimic the Surface

Microsoft and Apple are regularly going after one another in ad campaigns, but it's time to set the rivalry aside and borrow from the Surface. Specifically, Apple should build a keyboard cover like that available for the Surface tablet.

Surface Pro 3
Image: Microsoft

This thin keyboard would be out of the way until needed, than step in as a full keyboard. It doesn't have to be fancy or have special features, just function as a cover most of the time and a keyboard when needed.

While there are a number of keyboards currently available for the iPad, Apple doesn’t make one of its own. When it comes to products for the enterprise, it would need to have an in-house solution so it could control the promotion and delivery of product to companies. It could possibly forge a deal with a third-party keyboard manufacturer but that’s not Apple’s style.

This accessory should be offered to the enterprise as a package deal of some sort so it's ready to go out of the box. It will be wireless, which means Apple engineers will have to figure out the keyboard charging need, and address the problem of no kickstand.

Push Handoff and Continuity hard

The Handoff and Continuity features in iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite are tailor-made for the enterprise, and Apple should push this heavily to the enterprise to get more iPads on-site. These features let workers start a task on one Apple device and finish it on another. There is nothing currently offered by the competition in such a useful form.

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Pushing this hard to the enterprise would have an added benefit of selling other devices in bulk. Companies are deploying iPhones so perhaps a package deal with a phone and iPad? Apple could preconfigure Handoff and Continuity on each pair of devices, ready to go out of the box.

Become a Microsoft Office cheerleader

Office for iPad
Image: Microsoft

This one is the most difficult thing for Apple to do to get more iPads in the enterprise. Microsoft Office is the standard in the enterprise, and no matter how much Apple would rather promote its own office suite it won't get them far in the corporate world.

Apple should make it clear to the enterprise that Office for iPad is the best version of Office optimized for touch. Play it up big, and if Apple wants to stick a fork in Microsoft while doing so point out how this good touch version of Office is not even available on Microsoft's own OSes.

This is not likely to ever happen, as Apple would have to admit Microsoft’s product is dominant. But the fact is, Microsoft Office is dominant, so it would serve Apple’s interests to go with the reality. It could promote having Office on the iPad in such a way that it's a positive for Apple as indicated, being the best tablet version of Office on any platform, including Microsoft's.

It’s all about sales

Getting iPads into the enterprise would result in a big boost in sales for Apple. This would be a bold move, highly competitive with Microsoft and its domination in the corporate world.

Following these suggestions, Apple would be going well out of its comfort zone in regard to its normal business practices. But that may be just what it needs to do, as often in business the bigger the risk, the bigger the rewards.