Apple iPad, HP Slate, Dell Streak Drive Corporate Tablet Use

Apple's iPad, along with other tablets from HP and Dell, are helping drive corporate tablet use, according to a new ChangeWave Research survey.

Corporate purchasing of the Apple iPad and other tablet PCs will rise in 2011, according to new survey data by ChangeWave Research.

Based on responses from 1,641 business IT buyers, ChangeWave suggests that some 7 percent of corporations now provide their employees with tablet PCs, a 1 percent increase from August. Apple's iPad constitutes 82 percent of that business market, followed by Hewlett-Packard with 11 percent and Dell with 7 percent.

Hewlett-Packard currently offers the 8.9-inch Slate 500, which runs Windows. In November, responding to a note on HP's Website that the Slate was on backorder due to "extraordinary demand," tech blog Engadget quoted a "trusted tipster with a contact inside HP" as saying the company had originally planned a run of only 5,000 units. In 2011, HP is widely expected to release tablets running its recently acquired Palm webOS.

Dell offers the 5-inch Streak, now running Android 2.2, but reportedly plans to introduce tablets with larger screens in coming quarters.

Among the iPad's corporate users, around 69 percent reported being "Very Satisfied" with the experience, with another 28 percent "Somewhat Satisfied." Contrast that with HP users, 23 percent of whom reported being "Very Satisfied" and 46 percent "Somewhat Satisfied," and Dell users, at 12 percent "Very Satisfied" and 62 percent "Somewhat Satisfied."

The corporate tablet market is also primed for expansion in 2011, according to ChangeWave, with 14 percent of businesses reporting an anticipated tablet purchase for the first quarter of next year. "In other words, the total number of companies making use of tablet devices is set to double in just the next three months-an explosive surge in demand going forward," Paul Carton, ChangeWave's vice president of research, wrote in a Dec. 15 research note.

Some 78 percent of those corporate buyers indicated they would purchase Apple iPads, followed by 9 percent each for Dell and Research In Motion tablets, 8 percent for HP, and 4 percent for Samsung's Galaxy Tab.

"Although the release of the RIM PlayBook isn't expected until late-1st Quarter 2011, RIM (9 percent) is now tied with Dell (9 percent) for second place in terms of future buying-a positive development for the Canadian manufacturer," Carton wrote.

Of corporate iPad users, the majority (73 percent) use their device for internet access, followed by checking email (69 percent), working off-site (67 percent), sales support (46 percent), customer presentations (45 percent) and laptop replacement (38 percent).

While the iPad currently holds the lion's share of the tablet market for both consumers and businesses, the increasing number of Android-powered devices is widely expected to put a dent in Apple's overall share. Microsoft has claimed that Intel's upcoming "Oak Trail" Atom processor will power a growing family of Windows-based tablets, and the PlayBook is expected to make a substantial play for the enterprise audience.