When Steve Jobs first announced the iPad, many consumers were suspect. They weren't necessarily sure that the device had what it takes to deliver a unique enough experience for it to offer any real viability to consumers or enterprise customers. After all, it's little more than a big iPod Touch with some added functionality built in. And due to its lack of a USB port and multitasking, they just weren't sure if it was really worth the starting price of $499. I agreed with those people.
But then I got my hands on the iPad. And I quickly discovered that this device is ideally suited for enterprise users.
The enterprise is a difficult nut to crack for most tech companies. Most enterprise customers are set in their ways, and they like things done a certain way. They need everything to work the same way to ensure productivity doesn't slip. And perhaps most importantly, they need the software they most commonly use to be available to users at any time.
Those requirements would immediately place any tablet on the back burner for most companies. But the iPad is different. It delivers such a unique take on computing and getting the job done that most companies would likely prefer it over a laptop. It's a surprise, I know. But it's quite true. Here's why:
1. The mobility factor
A growing number of workers are going mobile. And as they go mobile, they're looking for devices that don't slow them down. Prior to the growth of netbooks, laptops sometimes held enterprise users back. They were heavy, big and tough to carry. But then netbooks changed all that with their slim and lightweight form factor. The iPad builds on that success by improving upon the netbook's mobility. The device is small, lightweight and easy to work on, thanks to its 9.7-inch display. As the workforce goes mobile, the iPad should go with it.
2. Corporate apps
A key measure of the viability of a particular product for most enterprise users is whether or not they can run corporate applications on the device. Admittedly, this is where the iPad stumbles a bit, since Windows-only software won't run on it. But there's something working in its favor that should help sell it to enterprise users: the App Store. Apple's App Store offers a slew of enterprise applications that run beautifully on the iPad. They range from project management software to proprietary solutions that were adapted from their Windows-only origins. The iPad is quickly becoming the next frontier in enterprise software.
3. The enterprise's new focus
Although most companies are still tied to the desktop, more and more firms are moving their services to the cloud. They finally realize that the best and most proficient way to do business is online where they can store content, collaborate with others and more. The iPad is ideally suited for that functionality. Assuming users buy the iPad with 3G, they will be able to connect to all those cloud services no matter where they are. And thanks to the device's Safari browser, which works extremely well on the iPad, it shouldn't be nearly the headache that it is on the iPhone. The screen size is big enough to justify using the iPad as a cloud-computing product.
4. The perfect size
Speaking of size, the iPad hits the sweet spot. Unlike a laptop, it's not difficult to carry in a bag. Nor will it get lost in a purse or duffel bag. Although some have said that a larger screen would have been nicer, for enterprise users it might be the right size. The small form factor ensures that it won't be unwieldy to perform basic tasks. And when typing on the device it's not difficult to hold or handle. The iPad seems like the right size for any road warrior.