iPad as Mobile Warrior Workhorse for Mobile Computing?

Remember that Certs jingle, "It's two, two, two mints in one?" According to a new poll, mobile phone users expect the next generation of mobile devices to be a twofer as well -- something they can use for leisure activities as well as work.

Just over 52 percent of smartphone users in a Zogby poll said they are most likely to use a new tablet device like the iPad for work. But watching movies came in second at 48 percent, followed by playing games in third place at 35.4 percent. The poll, commissioned by enterprise mobile device technology player Sybase (NYSE:SY), was released this week at the CTIA conference.

For the poll, Zogby International conducted an online survey of 2,443 adults with mobile phones in the U.S. of which 770 owned a smartphone.

The results come just days in advance of the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPad's expected arrival on store shelves. The much anticipated iPad tablet is begin pegged by some analysts -- and Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- as promising to create a new category of portable device. Even though it's far from the first computer tablet, the iPad's friendly user interface and variety of applications (available via its iPhone-like App Store model) is expected to perk up what's been a relatively sleepy market for tablets that so far have mainly been sold for niche applications like order delivery.

Mobile Computing with the iPad?

That's assuming that the same patterns of behavior Zogby found in smartphone usage translate to the iPad. Zogby said it found that 79 percent of smartphone users said they use their device for both personal use and work, while a majority of non-smartphone users -- 53.1 percent -- said they didn't.

Despite interest in using their mobile devices at least part-time for work, users still report some obstacles in the way. In the overall survey of both mobile and smartphone users, 72.3 percent said they had mobile access to less than 10 percent of their company's applications, such as spreadsheet, e-mail and CRM apps. It's unclear whether that will change with the advent of devices like the iPad, which boasts a larger screen that could make a range of desktop applications easier to view and manage.

The split between work and play interests was underscored in results for the question: "Which of the following functions do you wish your mobile phone had?"

The top result by a hair was "ability to watch streaming television and movies. Second place, at 27.1 percent, was "Interconnect with my work systems."

Apple might be especially cheered by the close third place (24.6 percent) finisher: "Easily access and read newspaper, magazine and online content," as that is expected to be a prime application for the iPad.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.


iPad, Apple, mobile apps, mobile device, mobile computing