Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Consumer Door. Again.

Apple just announced its media tablet (we coined these things mobile media tablets in 2005 in private client conversations and ) amidst much excitement and surprisingly little secrecy. There wasn't much if anything in the announcement that the bloggers hadn't anticipated.

This product will appear in 60 days with WiFi and in 90 days unlocked with AT&T data plan for $629 and $29/month. It will catch on quickly as an employee-provisioned third device, particularly for Mobile Professionals, 28% of the workforce. IT will support it in many organizations. After all, it's just a big iPhone to them and already 20% of firms support them.

Most of the media coverage will discuss the impact on consumer markets. I'm going to talk about the impact on businesses and on information & knowledge management professionals, the IT executive responsible for making the workforce successful with technology.

Make no mistake, this is an attractive business tool. Laptops will be left at home.

One thing's for sure, Apple knows how to time the market. And the market it's timed this time around is an important one: information workers self-provisioning what they need rather than what their employers provide. We have called this trend Technology Populism(AKA consumerization of IT), and it's important enough that we're writing a book called Groundswell Heroes about how to harness it.

Apple also timed the rest of it right. The technology, the media industry, the digital experience, the developer ecosystem, the retail presence, the applications, the operating system, the increasingly HTML5-enabled Web, the price, and the wireless industry is ready for this product.

Oh, I'm sure it will have problems. Despite the claims, battery life's sure to be inadequate for someone on the go all day, for example. But the iPad extends all the things that Apple's already got up and running. And Apple has addressed the usual problems already: cost, availability, accessories, wireless access.

And it offers some superior characteristics for the things that Mobile Professionals care about. Mobile Professionals are one of the four Workforce Personas we've defined. This segment is 28% of the US information workforce defined by a high need for mobility and a lot of applications. Mobile Professionals care about:


  • Messaging and collaboration on the go. (Need email, calendar, contacts, Web conferencing.)
  • Full Web experience. (Big screen, big Web pages. Duh.)
  • Business media. (The New York Times app is just the beginning).)
  • Full-size document tools. (Execs review, tweak, and present a lot on the go.)
  • Secure wireless connectivity. (Any time, any place. This one needs work.)
  • And let's not forget, looking cool. (Haven't seen it yet, but it's sure looking good.)


This thing will take off among high net worth mobile pros. And IT should be okay with that, at least in non-regulated industries where the lack of application management and device control tools are not big issues. After all, iPad is really just a big iPhone.

And in April 2009, 17% of enterprises and 25% of SMBs supported iPhone and in September 2009,16% of US information workers used iPhones for work, even at the world's largest organizations. 

Now, some "What it Means" (WIM) points:


WIM #1: The importance of great document tools just increased. Apple's support of iWorks on the iPad gives execs what they need to present on the road and leave the laptop at home. Microsoft should build best-in-class iPad software in the Office formats. (Or watch execs move key material to the iWorks formats.) Adobe should take responsibility for a great PDF reader. And these readers must also be great presentation tools.


WIM #2: The importance of application push just got greater. Apple should make this a priority in its v4 release of the software. (We expect to see the v4 release in July 2010.)


WIM #3: Google has even more need now to retain control over the Android experience so developers can target that platform with the same relative ease as they can target the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad market.


WIM #4: The market for device and application management just got more important. Apple, make the management APIs a key initiative to allow vendors like Good, Box Tone, and Sybase to solve that problem. (Device management vendors, feel free to comment below if you want to be included in the conversation.)




While I agree it will come in

While I agree it will come in through the back door, I struggle with moving this into the enterprise - I struggle even getting it connected to the network through an ipsec VPN with RSA and the only firewall I could find required the ipad to be jail broken.. I struggle with giving our users another device, as I cant take their phone or their laptop away from them in return for an ipad...I struggle getting our corporate apps (office etc) to work on them, I strugle with itunes, I struggle with security... I realize apple have not compromised function over interoperability - but it would be great if they could play better with the other kids in the street, ie microsoft, adobe..

..saying all that.. myself and my family love the ipad - but we still need the laptop to plug in devices, do school work etc etc.. If I brought the ipad into work, attached through a corporate wirless network I'd struggle to do my everyday activities, wouldn't I ?

Can someone tell me what I'm missing

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Very good points. Agree on them all.

To me, the iPad is a very "low-risk, medium potential" game played by Apple. Like you say, it´s a big iPhone but hey, the iPhone is an extremely successful product so why experiment? Here is the low-risk part for Apple, because at the same time, I think this product will cannibalize quite substantially on the existing lap-top market rather than eReader market and also on Apple existing sales.

Mice producers just got a smaller future market...

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Wait, does it even have Outlook support out of the box? And this is still more expensive than a Lenovo thinkpad at scale for most businesses to give their customers. It's a cool extra computer.

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

The iPhone OS supports Exchange out of the box, there's no reason the iPad shouldn't as well.

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Oh yes, you coined the phrase media tablet...I'm sure you coined the term Internet in the 60s too...what pompous rubbish! You're assuming that as companies shift to 3 nines and give users more leeway and procurement patterns change, that the iPad will fulfil people's needs as consumers as well as business decision makers. Businesses have dismissed Tablets for years outside limited vertical deployments so why assume that iPhone penetration=iPad penetration-somewhat flawed isn't it? When there are good business tools that can be used on a PC (or God forbid, a Mac) why would any company pay more for less? Is it not possible that this product will fall between mobile devices and PCs. Or are you assuming that the shift in IT behaviour means "just bring what you want and we're fine with it". This is seriously flawed analysis. I'd be interested to see whether you actually publish this!

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons


Thanks for your comments. I don't think companies are going to pay for these devices any time soon. But I do think that consumers will buy them and expect to get support at work. That's what has happened with iPhones, for example.

IT support for Bring-Your-Own (BYO) devices is a very tough conversation between IT and employees, and it's getting tougher every month. But the amount of self-provisioned technology that employees are using to get work done is astounding and on the rise.

On the naming thing, I'm happy to send you the report. Just send me an email to


re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Thanks Ted. I was a little harsh...I just become fatigued with everyone looking to claim invention of naming terms. I agree about B-Y-O and it's shifting that way. I guess my issues are more around why this would persuade enterprises or workers to substitute for a fully fledged PC when they already have an iPhone and a PC. Sure it could be a new category type (I'm thinking more of a home thin client, but I'm struggling to see where productivity comes in (although you cite senior execs and CxOs, who do little real work anyway ;-)
Kind of reminds me of the MacBook Wheel: "it remains to be seen how it will take off in the business world where people do real work, rather than just dicking about"

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons


Truth be told, I guess I was bragging a little. We put names on new technologies sometimes just to have a way to talk about them. That was the case with mobile Internet devices (which we did actually convince Intel to use) and mobile media tablets. But it isn't any pride of authorship, really; it's just a way to get a handle on what makes the things different from PCs and phones.

(I do see tablets as an in-between category, not a replacement for most people of phones or computers. When gadgets get cheap enough, people tend to buy lots of them. It's more like footwear than electronics; one for every activiy.)

The bigger issue is of course what you raise. How should IT deal with this thing? My advice is to start to get on board and also demand better security and application management from Apple and its partners.

My belief is that the days of one-size-fits-all are over, replaced by rich Internet interfaces, cloud delivery in many cases, and BYO devices. This will be a big challenge for IT, of course, and we spend a lot of our time helping the CIO organization figure out how to respond.

I spend most of my time helping the collaboration professional do things that make employees the most productive. And mobility support for messaging, collaboration, and content tops is way up on that IT to-do list.

iPad simply adds yet another mobile device to worry about. Hopefully, my post just pointed out why it may start appearing in exec's hands in the same way that iPhone did.

Apple has a lot of work to do to make iPhone, iPod Touch, and now iPad enterprise-ready.

Anyway, thanks for your comments. Hope to talk soon.


ps. Funny video clip. And watched 2.4M times!

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

I think "enterprise-ready" is a relative term. As we progress towards a BYO environment, won't the network architecture change as well? Doesn't that mean traditional client server applications will increasingly be delivered as rich web apps (mobile enabled)? Doesn't this mean users could access these applications via SSL VPNs even though they are "on network" (thereby isolating data from device)?

If so, endpoint security becomes a bit less of a concern, since data always resides in the data center, or cloud. In this scenario the IPad may already be "enterprise ready", but the network and our existing applications are what hold us down from the next step.

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons


I agree on what's needed to move to a BYO world. The network and security buried in the application data and not the device are key. Lots of money will have to be spent to do that, though. And somebody has to decide it's worth spending that money.

My bet is that it won't be a device that justifies the spend, it will be telecommuting, remote workers, and the need for better partner collaboration. Businesses care about those things more.


re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons


I absolutely agree and even in a best case scenario, it's going to be a slow road I'm afraid.


re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

One aspect which might be key is how well the Pad can deal with "fillable forms," which allow the user to enter information into the device with simple "checkbox-style" and other short-entry formats. The Pad is clearly great for information *consumers*, but will only grow into its full potential for the business (esp healthcare) environment if it's also successful for information *producers*.

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

this is so cool. but when will it come out and why is its so expensive. Will it come out 2 Conway,South Carolina?

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

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re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons


You get it 99%, just the 1% that is missing and is very big is how this represents as a new device/method for information (and content) consumption. If you are shortsighted in saying tablets failed in marketplace therefor iPad is a tablet that too will fail, then if you an IT person staying you too will fail to lead your organization forward with a new vision. When you have a stat that 28% of an organization is composed of mobile professionals, this translates to over a quarter of your company are out somewhere promoting an image. And will you continue to advise this a critical asset to be supplied them with sub-standard tools.

The smart mobile professionals get this and will take matters into their own hands when they see what an iPad can do for them. Why will the iPad win big? I'm on the road ready to do a client presentation, and I just happen to check the NY Times on the iPad that has special alerts setup for specific topics on the client I'm seeing. News flash comes with a topic that would be a killer point to add into my presentation and with just a drag of the finger it is updated. I nail the client presentation with my "off the presses" insight. I've just converted information into the knowledge in record time.

You only need a few of these applications to occur and iPad (or any other device for that matter) that can do this great ease will help define it's success.

re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Some important thoughts here (and one marketing pitch that you should feel free to ignore).

When application developers start pushing the boundaries of what they can use this device for, we'll see some very cool apps, I'm sure.

Forms apps, for sure, though maybe for high-falutin scenarios first until the price comes down.

Better content management and content integration tools for mobile professionals, yes.

I'm expecting that we'll even see Microsoft respond at some point with apps tailored for these kinds of devices. Already, they would say that Office Web Apps on Safari on iPad could get the job done.

And yes, it will be available in Conway,SC, mybe even at the RadioShack in Myrtle Beach!


re: Apple's iPad Will Come Into The Enterprise Through The Cons

Correction... you can't get the "Full Web Experience" with the IPad, unless it has Flash. There are many important websites and business applications that take advantage of Flash. Now, I don't want to sound like just another Adobe fanboy, but this would be a killer device if I could really use it for the entire internet... not just a portion of it.