Faster CPU. Videoconferencing. An HDMI video out for corporate presentations. These represented the grand total of what could charitably be labeled as new enterprise features in the iPad 2. Though that requires you to stretch the definition of enterprise as much as a pair of bicycle tights on a sumo wrestler.
In fact, you could argue that some of the iPad 2’s new features would actually put off enterprises, as IDC analyst Bob O’Donnell did. “”There was nothing specific there for the enterprise. Indeed, some companies don’t want the new cameras because of privacy and security concerns.”
I won’t go that far. But I will argue that Apple, as is its wont, basically chose not to devote its engineering prowess on the enterprise front. No encryption – as the iPhone has; no improvements to iTunes for easier enterprise security and management; no “true multitasking,” as analyst Jack Gold argued.
Not that it will matter – my prediction is that adoption of the iPad by businesses will only accelerate from its impressive debut year (80% of Fortune 100 testing/deploying, 366 documented mass rollouts).
Why? Let’s go through my list – oh how I love my lists – of reasons:
1) The Bring Your Own Device phenomenon. According to IDC, half of the iPads used at work are being brought in as individually-owned devices. The other half are being deployed by organizations who have calculated that the productivity gains from equipping executives, salespeople, business analysts and others with iPads outweigh the inability to lock them down with hundreds of group policies, the typical overkill on a corporate PC.
2) It’s the software, stupid. IT knows that any meaningful upgrade to the iPad’s enterprise-worthiness will be delivered via improvements in iOS. iOS 4 released at last year’s WWDC was huge because it opened up lots of APIs for third-party vendors to add their own enterprise and security controls. Speaking of the ecosystem…
3) The iOS ecosystem is hu-uge. Besides Sybase and our mobile device management and app development platform, there are plenty of competing firms (though our position is that most of those are less integrated solutions that will, for large or growing firms, create more cost in the long run). There are even plenty of firms solving one of the iPad’s less-obvious but nagging problems – its lack of enterprise storage capability, such as the ability to connect natively with SharePoint. Turns out there are plenty of vendors offering solutions.
4) Low price. As widely noted, the iPad starts at a significantly lower price ($499, not including the temporary $399 price for the original iPad) than its rivals, and not just the unapologetically enterprise-oriented rivals like the Cisco Cius. That’s important because, as noted, half of the iPads in business use today are being brought in by consumers. So even if IT is not particularly price-conscious, consumers are.
5) Apps. I’ve always found that my satisfaction from a restaurant meal can be expressed by this formula:
Tastiness + Portion Size + My Hunger At That Moment / Price = Satisfaction
If I were to create a similar formula for user satisfaction for a tablet, it might look like something like this:
Hardware Sexiness + User Interface + Apps / Upfront Price + (Long-term Cost of Ownership, i.e. mobile subscription / 2) = Satisfaction
The point here is that apps matter, both the quality and the quantity. Apple wins hands-down on both counts.