Numerous case studies and anecdotal evidence tell the tale of Apple's iPad as a boon for e-commerce and even in some select business markets. Law firm Prosskauer Rose, for example, issued 500 iPad 2s to its attorneys, who use them to send and receive email messages and share contracts with clients.
Now evidence of the iPad's viability in the education market is beginning to emerge, according to Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster. The analyst found that all 25 technology directors in U.S. school districts he polled were testing or actually rolling out iPads for users in schools. Conversely, no respondents indicated that they are testing or deploying Android tablets.
"While this may be expected due to limited availability of Android tablets early in the tablet cycle, we also see it as evidence of Apple's first mover advantage," Munster wrote in an Oct. 31 research note. That first-mover advantage helped Apple sell 32.4 million-plus iPads in less than two years.
"We also see a trend in education (which is mirrored in the enterprise) that familiarity with Apple devices among students (or employees) is causing a demand pull within institutions to also provide Apple devices."
This makes sense. Apple II and Macintosh computers were huge in schools before Microsoft Windows desktops hijacked most of the markets in the 1990s.
The data sample, however small, points to a couple of crucial points. The first is Apple's absolute grand slam of an iPad tablet launch in April 2010, and then its encore this past year with the iPad 2. The second is the wholesale branding problem Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and its OEM partners had with slates based on the Android Honeycomb platform.
Perhaps emboldened by the success of Verizon's Droid Does marketing campaign for Android smartphones, Verizon and Motorola seemed to assume that the Motorola Xoom would take off like a rocket when it launched this past year.
But Verizon Wireless didn't put the same marketing muscle behind the Xoom as it did for the Droid back in November 2009. Moreover, the price point was higher than the base iPad, and Honeycomb bugs have curbed enthusiasm for the Xoom, which only shipped 100,000 units this past quarter.
The good news is that those educators Munster surveyed said that they expected to have more tablets per student than they currently have computers within the next five years. The tablets will supplement computers in most cases as more personalized learning machines.
That means the tablet market may extend beyond its current "iPad Market" state to include more Android tablets-be they flavored Honeycomb or "Ice Cream Sandwich"-as well as future Research in Motion Blackberry tablets and slates based on Microsoft Windows 8.
That's assuming Android OEMs and other challenges can get their pricing, software and marketing messages right.