iPad Brings Mobile Computing to Enterprise

Just when mobile managers and IT departments started feeling comfortable supporting the iPhone, now comes Apple's new handheld computer, the iPad.

At first glance, Apple's iPad appears to be squarely aimed at consumers who want a mobile device that's bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a laptop for experiencing entertainment multimedia. But analysts say a closer evaluation shows that we'll be seeing the iPad in the enterprise as part of the emerging mobile office.

While much has been said about the iPad's specs and multimedia functionality, analysts say the large screen and enterprise apps that it runs make it a good fit for certain businesses, though like the first iterations of the iPhone, there are mobile security and management challenges for IT.

"The iPad is clearly aimed at consumers, but Apple isn't completely ignoring the enterprise: e-mail, calendar and contacts are all built-in. Apple also rebuilt the iWork suite for the iPad, and then priced these relatively full function Office applications using the iPhone app pricing model -- just $10 each.

"Even with iWork and a separate keyboard an iPad does not truly replace a notebook, but if you can get at least some work done on it, then it gives consumers another reason to buy an iPad, as a laptop replacement for short trips," Avi Greengart, research director of mobile and consumer devices at Current Analysis, said in a research note shared with EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

While the tech industry still debates whether or not netbooks will replace laptops in the workplace -- and whether smartphones will eventually replace both -- Greengart sees the iPad as being a true enterprise-class mobile device based on one of its applications.

"iWork's Numbers application can instantly churn out attractive forms, making the iPad one of the least expensive ways to do live surveys, check inventory or collect census data. Oddly, Apple only mentioned Numbers forms in passing," said Greengart.

He goes on to say that a VGA adapter will be available for the iPad to allow presentations from the device to be shared in the workplace, another indication that we may be seeing the iPad in the boardroom.

Mobile IT, Mobile Network Security Pitfalls of the iPad

Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless technologies at The 451 Group, agrees that the iPad's combination of a large display with the customized iWork suite of apps for spreadsheets and so on makes it ideal for business use.

However, he said the lack of security and management features could cause headaches for mobile managers and IT.

"Just when the iPhone finally became more palatable for IT," he said, "now they have another Apple device to worry about."

For instance, there's no support for setting up a VPN, it's not compatible with ActiveSync or Microsoft Exchange, it doesn't allow for complex password protection and the iPad cannot be remotely wiped or locked if it's lost, Hazelton told EnterpriseMobileToday.com.

"The iPad only supports consumer e-mail services, so if you're getting work e-mail, it's going a third-party server, which is not ideal," he said. "Also, right now, more companies are securing customer and enterprise data on Web sites, but what happens when you move that data from the Web to the iPad?"

Hazelton, however, thinks third-party vendors, and Apple itself, are likely to address the security and management issues in the future, just as they have with the iPhone.

"Will third parties come forward? Definitely. We'll see them develop apps similar to how they did with the iPhone, because the security isn't there, they'll provide apps that are sandboxed, like Sybase iAnywhere mobile office for iPhone, it runs on its own," he said. "We'll begin to see silos of information in the iPad that's secured."

Enterprise Apps, Online Collaboration

Forrester Research analyst Ted Schadler also sees the iPad as the next mobile device from Apple to encroach into the cubicle.

"Make no mistake, this is an attractive business tool. Laptops will be left at home," he wrote in a blog post titled "Apple's iPad Will Come Into the Enterprise Through the Consumer Door. Again."


mobile, iPad, Apple, Enterprise, tablet
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