It’s so secret that Apple is trying to make devices like their iPad and their iPhone into mass-appeal products. Both are designed for simplicity on the user end, while remaining geeky enough for the gadget lovers. Because the devices are not only high-tech, but easy to use, they are well-fitted for the enterprise market.
We’ve already seen them used in schools not only on the educational side, but for faculty as the devices are great for keeping documents on hand as well as scheduling and being able to check email without having to be tied to a computer. These are especially important in our connected work world. Then there is use in the medical field, where doctors can use the iPad to easily access their desktop computer remotely, view patient files or even examine x-rays of patients while out of the office.
Let’s take a look at Apple’s progress in securing the enterprise market:
1) Easy-to-use devices
We’ve already heard the story of the 100-year-old woman whose first computer was an iPad. Devices like the iPad and the iPhone are becoming more popular because of their simplicity of use. What does that mean for business? Despite the many useful features of such a device (checking email, reading documents, business-specific Apps) the user interface is simple enough so that training needed is minimal. Yeah, there will be questions, but the simple interface makes it easy for even the least-trained computer user to get along fine.
Say what you will, but so long as the iPad or iPod Touch is used the way it was intended, you are fairly safe with the device. Of course nothing is foolproof, but so long as employees use the devices as they are supposed to, and proper precautions are taken, things should be okay.
3) Apple is constantly looking into how to make the device useful for businesses
While the devices are flying off the shelf in the consumer market, things can often be difficult for business. A simple “Should we get the iPad?” turns into weighing a bunch of options, the cost of getting one for each employee, training, possibly insuring the devices and a number of other things.
Apple is well aware of that, as they have been reported in the past to send out their product managers and engineers to large businesses to ask them what they want out of the iPad.
That said, Steve Jobs has also noted that Apple isn’t exactly pushing their device on businesses. “We haven’t pushed it real hard in business, and it’s being grabbed out of our hands,” he said of the iPad growing in business use.
A report from All Things Digital asks how, then, are iPads growing this rapidly in enterprise use? The answer, they say, is simple. Employees buy the device for their own use, and enterprise is increasingly starting to support them, at times even subsidizing them.
4) Apple’s iOS is Already Going Strong in Enterprise
A recent report by Good Technology, a company that tracks mobile enterprise integration shows that iOS is currently growing in the enterprise market and already has a very strong presence. To be fair, it should be known that they do not track BlackBerry, which has something to do with their server infrastructure (RIM provides their own). It’s also worth pointing out that they do not yet chart Windows Phone 7, and the original Windows Mobile platform was probably expected to decline.
According to a MacWorld, 80 percent of Fortune 100 companies are rolling out or already using iPads. That is up from 65 percent reported in the September quarter. Corporations like JPMorgan, Chase, Cardinal Health, Wells Fargo, Sears Holdings and DuPont are all corporate iPad users. It’s probably going to grow. That said, it’s not hard to imagine some of them switching to the iPhone as work phones, if they haven’t already.
5) Microsoft Has Taken Aim–You Know It’s Serious
Microsoft is working hard to play catchup in releasing a true tablet operating system. It’s not expected to land until early next year with Windows 8. For now, they are trying to help partners sell Windows 7 tablets to businesses with fancy power point presentations.
Of course there will be security concerns. Though there have been many lessons learned on both ends thanks to the iPhone.
iOS and Enterprise
Some may remember when Apple announced iOS4 and they talked about their “Tentpole” features (or their most important improvements over the previous system). One of them was enterprise features, which added better email handling for business, such as allowing data to be encrypted, and distribution of iPad business Apps without them having to be downloaded at the App Store.
As new versions of iOS land and devices like the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 emerge, we will see even more improvements in how these devices can be used by businesses. As mobile operating systems like BlackBerry seem to be less and less talked about, we can be sure that someone out there wants to grab the spot as the mobile device that businesses use, and you can bet that none of the mobile device makers will be standing still for that one.