Apple's star device iPad is the undisputed leader in the consumer segment of the tablet market and is now on the roll to capture the enterprise tablet segment as well.
Good Technology, a software company which specializes in multiplatform enterprise mobility, released a report titled iPads Drive iOS Dominance in the Enterprise, in which it states that the overall net activations of iOS tablets outpaced Android smartphone activations - 27.2 percent to 24 percent, respectively.
The report examines the most popular device models and OS platforms that Good's enterprise end-users activated in the second quarter of 2011.
Apple accounted for 95 percent of all tablet activations.
Other revelations about tablet and smartphone adoption in the enterprise segment indicate that 46 percent of the iPad activations were done in the financial services vertical followed by Business and Professional Services and Life Sciences. It also suggests that Motorola Xoom was the most-popular Android tablet and Motorola Droid 2 Global was the most-activated Android smartphone.
Apple iOS accounted for a majority of activations in the period from April 1 to June 30, 2011. The top 5 devices for enterprise activation were all iOS devices. iPhone 4 was the most popular enterprise device averaging activation rate of 22 percent for the quarter. Verizon iPhone 4 accounted for 11 percent activation which was followed by iPad 2, iPad, iPhone 3GS. The other top ten devices registered just under 2 percent activation rate each. The ten devices include Android Motorola Droid 2 Global, Motorola Droid X, iPhone 3G, HTC EVO 4G and HTC Incredible HD.
Also Android smartphones represented nearly 33 percent of all smartphone activations compared to iPhone's 66 percent in spite of Android's overall market share growth.
The last frontier that Apple has to conquer is the enterprise segment and the report underscores that Apple has breached the holy grail of device adoption.
Key to the revelation is the enterprise adoption of Apple's iPad which was designed to offer rich multi-media experience and was touted to fill the product hole between an iPhone and Mac Book Air. Apple iPad gained enterprise level prominence when Bloomberg first reported in 2010 that corporations Mercedes-Benz, Wells Fargo and SAP are buying iPads.
Apple currently offers business tools to augment iPad adoption among enterprise users. It offers tools and deployment scenarios for integration of iPad with the enterprise environment. The details are available on the Apple website in a report titled iPad in Business.
However, iPad enterprise adoption, though increasing, has certain bottlenecks which curb its all-out march to rule the enterprise world. Aruba Networks, a provider of network access solutions for mobile enterprise networks, in a report titled Enabling High-Performance for Apple iPads in the Enterprise states some impediments in iPad deployment in the Enterprise.
The limitations include the fact that iPad is Wi-Fi-centric device and has no wired Ethernet port to fall back on, if WLAN performance is unsatisfying. Thus, designing a high-density wireless LAN means performance-related implications in having too many iPads, tablets, smart phones and other Wi-Fi clients in a small area.
Since iPad uses 802.11n technology, an enterprise has to factor in the possibility that this will not affect the performance of clients using legacy Wi-Fi technology.
Since iPad was designed for the consumer, it lacks enterprise grade security to cordon off corporate data. Also there are no measures available to IT administrators to deploy push policy to lock the iPad in case it is stolen.
The iPad should be able to offer seamless connectivity in a campus environment so that productivity is not affected.
Other hindrance to iPad's enterprise adoption includes the proprietary nature of Apple's app distribution model, especially the Apps Store infrastructure. However, the model does not support an enterprise's volume-based purchase strategy as enterprises make bulk purchases and, thus, avail discounts. Even apps have to be deployed uniformly.
ZDNet's earlier report stated that Microsoft has released a marketing collateral slideshow for its partners in which it details how the partners can defend against iPad's enterprise advancement. It raises questions about iPad adoption in enterprise on the following grounds: Secure Corporate IP, compliance to auditors and security of data on lost/stolen devices. It also states that iPad is optimized for data consumption rather than data creation.
Apple has, despite these limitations, continued to gain enterprise market share. iPad is not seen as a competitor to a PC in corporate environment but is seen as a device which brings soft benefits to corporate clients. Gartner in a report titled Gartner to CEOs: Seize the iPad Opportunity Now suggests: The iPad is not a notebook replacement for most users, but a valuable companion device.
iPad has found significant adoption among college-goers with many universities offering iPad's for free as part of their program promotion strategy. But, there exist some loopholes. Michigan State University (MSU) details the following limitations:
-- Since iPad does not support Flash videos, many instructional videos which require Flash player cannot be used.
-- The iPad only supports Safari browser and, thus, cannot support the University's ANGEL learning management tool at MSU.
-- Many applications which are required in majors like MATLAB are not supported by iPad.
-- Reading the latest Microsoft Office formats like .docx on iPad is cumbersome. However, the Apple productivity suite (Pages, Numbers, Keynote) that is parallel to MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) reads/converts docx files into pages and then files can be worked on. The Apple suite or each individual application would need to be purchased, so it is an added expense above the cost of the iPad hardware.
However, these limitations did not cap Apple iPad of its cool factor which is breaching the enterprise wall, not so much as it offers excellent enterprise integration but because of the end-user interest which is driving the enterprise adoption.
As Gartner suggests, since workers are buying their own iPads, the company does not have to bear the risk of financing the device. When workers are buying their own devices, adoption will not be an issue.