Apple's iPad 2 could sway consumers based on price and features relative to competitors such as the Motorola Xoom. But businesses could be a tougher sell.
Within minutes of Apple unveiling the iPad 2, media outlets
immediately began debating the next-generation tablet's ability to hold off the
rising tide of Android-based competitors.
The general agreement seems to be that the iPad 2, equipped
with a dual-core processor and hardware upgrades such as cameras, matches
the capabilities of its highest-end rival, the Motorola Xoom. When it
finally hits shelves at Apple stores and retail partners March 11, hordes of
consumers will likely turn out to purchase one.
But for businesses considering whether to incorporate an
iPad into their lineup, the next version of Apple's popular tablet doesn't
include anything extra to sway their decision-making.
"Importantly, there were no real nods to business users in
manageability or security," analyst Jack Gold wrote in a March 3 research note
forwarded to media. "This is a challenge on the current iPad and isn't improved
on this version (or iOS 4.3), despite Apple's drive to get large scale adoption
of iPads into businesses."
For many enterprise workers, Gold added, the iPad 2 "will be
attractive with its increased processing power, on-board cameras (although not
all businesses see this as an advantage), and great battery life." For IT
administrators, though, "there is a real and substantial cost to companies for
deploying and maintaining these devices that users don't usually see or
It could be a challenge for enterprises to deploy the iPad 2
in a secure way, while maintaining flexibility for users. On the other hand,
third-party developers and IT firms that specialize in security and
administration middleware could benefit from the pressure on IT administrators
to introduce the devices into the enterprise.
Despite concerns about security and manageability, Apple's
iOS enjoys a healthy rate of enterprise adoption, with a recent report from
Good Technology suggesting that, for the quarter ended Dec. 31, devices running
iOS represented some 65 percent of net new activations. The iPad's share of
overall net activations grew from 14 percent to 22 percent over the quarter. By
contract, Android activations grew to net 30 percent, and represented 40
percent of all smartphone (non-tablet) activations.
Apple has worked to install iOS features that increase the
iPad's stickiness within an enterprise context, including wireless printing and
greater security. In addition to Android-based devices, the iPad also faces
business-centric competition from Research In Motion's upcoming PlayBook
tablet, and Hewlett-Packard's webOS-based slates coming later this year.
In keeping with his combative stance toward other competitors
in the tablet market, Apple CEO Steve Jobs used the iPad 2's March 2 unveiling
event to take some swipes at the Motorola Xoom, which retails for $799. Citing
the prices for various models of the iPad 2, he said: "Five of these six models
are less expensive than $799. We only have one model that's more expensive than
And for some consumers, price-point could be a substantial
factor in whether they choose to purchase an iPad or a competing device. But
for businesses still wary about tablets' place within their IT infrastructure,
and used to a slower refresh cycle, the debate over whether to consider the
iPad 2 will likely rest on arguments about security and manageability.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.