AT&T is kicking off an initiative to sell the Apple iPad directly to businesses through specially priced mobile broadband offers.
AT&T is pitching Apple's iPad tablet PC as a business tool.
The wireless carrier announced Oct. 15 that it plans to sell
WiFi and 3G iPad models directly to businesses as part of a larger initiative
aimed at helping customers save money and increase productivity.
The initiative, which will begin Oct. 28, will include "attractive
post-paid mobile broadband price plans" that are available to customers
whose AT&T wireless bills are paid for by their employers, the company said
in the announcement.
AT&T did not disclose any more details about the plan.
"iPad is a great fit for our enterprise customers across a
wide range of industries who are looking for ways to increase business
productivity and offer greater flexibility," Michael Antieri, president of
Advanced Enterprise Mobility Solutions at AT&T Business Solutions, said in
a statement. "This new offer further strengthens AT&T's commitment to
provide businesses with the tools they need to accelerate mobility-led
AT&T is making iPads available for businesses to buy with a
corporate service subscription. AT&T will begin selling the three
3G-enabled versions of the iPad, including the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models.
Apple has reinvigorated the tablet space with the iPad, which
was aimed at consumers. However, according to one analyst, companies
increasingly are looking at the iPad as a business tool.
"We are getting many requests for help on iPad strategies
for the enterprise," Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler wrote in an Aug.
9 blog post
. "It's clear why. iPads are a tremendously empowering
technology that any employee can buy."
In the blog, Schadler points to three scenarios-salespeople in
the field, executives on overnight trips and people, including medical staff,
retailer salespeople and warehouse workers, who need access to information
while on their feet-as the primary scenarios generating interest from
At the same time, Schadler pointed to improvements necessary
for the iPad for it to gain wider corporate adoption, including offering more
business applications for the device and full support for Microsoft software.
Apple is rapidly expanding the sales avenues for the iPad.
Along with AT&T, the tablet PCs will begin showing up in such places as Verizon
, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target.
The iPad will have a growing number of competitors later this
year and into 2011. Vendors such as Dell, Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard,
Lenovo, Research In Motion and Samsung all launched or plan to launch their own
Analyst say the iPad, and the promise of more tablets from
other vendors, is impacting consumer sales of laptops and netbooks. In an Oct.
14 report, ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr said
he expects 11 million tablets will have sold by the end of 2010.
Orr said in the report that he expects iPads and its ilk to
continue to be primarily a consumer buy, though RIM's upcoming PlayBook "may
be more palatable to IT managers because at this point it's not a stand-alone
device. It needs to be paired with a BlackBerry."
In an Oct. 13 report noting the weakening consumer demand for
PCs, Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said that while tablets won't replace PCs
as the primary computing device, "at this stage, hype around media tablets
has led consumers and the channel to take a 'wait and see' approach to buying a
Gartner analysts Oct. 15 projected that tablet sales will hit
19.5 million in 2010.