Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Is the iPad Ready for a Challenge in the Enterprise?

dwight_ipad_officeWe’re coming up on the third anniversary of Apple’s release of the iPad, and looking back, one of the bigger surprises about it has been its strength in the enterprise. As CEO Tim Cook points out nearly every time he speaks in public, most companies in the Fortune 500 are testing or deploying the iPad for use by their employees. And numerous enterprise software companies, among them SAP and Oracle. And numerous cloud software companies — Salesforce.com, Workday and NetSuite, to name only three — all support it.

But is that a permanent state of affairs? There is at least one analyst who has decided that it isn’t. Patrick Moorhead — a former executive with chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices who now runs his own research shop called Moor Insights and Strategy — has published a new white paper arguing that if ever there was a moment when the iPad’s dominance in the enterprise might face a challenge, it’s now.

Moorhead bases his argument — one that is admittedly hard to swallow, given the current state of play — on a few comparisons of the iPad to the Dell Latitude 10, Hewlett-Packard’s ElitePad 900, and the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, all of which run Windows 8. (Hold on, Apple fanboys, you’re going to hate this.)

First, the three Windows tablets have user-replaceable batteries, and can support extended-life batteries, giving them a longer useful battery life versus the iPad’s 10 hours.

Second, they’re all more readily expandable than the iPad, boasting more ports and connectors and memory-card slots.

Finally — and this is probably the most important factor — they all natively support the many management tools and security services that come with Windows machines in the enterprise, things like credential managers, VPN clients, BitLocker, Active Directory and scads of other things that IT managers are already used to dealing with in their Windows-centric offices.

“Once iPads are secured and deployed, they need to be managed,” Moorhead writes. “For PCs, most enterprises have already adopted Microsoft’s SCCM … Windows InTune or another tool they’ve been using for years. Anything additional for use with iPads adds investigation and research time, test, training and deployment resources.”

Do CIOs and IT managers like it when new things support their existing infrastructure? Sure they do. But their opinions are less relevant these days.

Don’t forget the entire BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend that has rocked the enterprise in the last three years, and seems almost entirely created for the iPad. Recent research has found that at least 81 percent of consumers use their own devices at work. It’s a trend that established itself from the earliest days of the iPad: The first anecdotes about corporate iPad concerned CEOs who bought them and asked their IT managers to make them work with their work email accounts.

For Dell, HP and Lenovo to make a dent in the iPad’s dominance of the enterprise, they would have to reverse that trend. Not easy, that, though they will try. For companies seeking to tamp down the BYOD tide, these Windows tablets may make sense. Maybe. Maybe not.


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