Apple's iPad is opening up the enterprise

Say what you like about 'reality distortion fields', first-generation Apple products and beta testing, Apple CEO, Steve Jobs has achieved the impossible -- big business is turning to Cupertino, as the iPad and iPhone move from consumer markets into the center of the mobile enterprise.

Apple's leader took a computer company on life support with weeks to live and has led it not just to a healthy recovery but into becoming the biggest -- most influential -- computer company on the planet.

Sure, Microsoft has those enterprise systems, and Office and makes great mice. It even makes operating systems which are used on those PCs no one really takes much notice of, but when it comes to what people like to use at home, consumers with a little extra cash will splash out on a Mac.

Apple today is more than the Mac (though Mac sales are up a rather attractive 37 per cent). And while the iPod (with the exception of the watch-this-space for the soon to be always-connected video camera-equipped iPod touch) empire is declining, the iPhone and iPad kingdoms are growing fast.

Both mobile products are beginning to define the mobile space. Even former partner now competitor, Google's Android seems set to emulate some of the decisions (including multi-touch, accelerometer, music and media services) Apple has made in defining the territory in the first place. 

Android's only unique differences being the choice of a partnership model for its product to market strategy and a decision to support Adobe's veteran multimedia solution, Flash, on Android devices.

Apple's sales stand for something: the company sold 1.7 million iPhones within scant days of launch, three million iPads have been shipped. That's an awful lot of consumers who suddenly want to use their technology at work as well as at home.

(Making technology relevant is important. That's partially why schools using Macs and iLife software in collaborative ways to boost educational attainment have seen recordable levels of success. Give people tools they understand to use for targets they comprehend, and they do better).

Microsoft has been withering for years. Its position at the top of the tree of the business markets seems less secure than before. Apple recently surpassed it in market cap, and that's not just a historical accident, it reflects Microsoft's fading mind share.

Mind share? Look around you. Apple accounts for a huge percentage of Twitter traffic. Media across multiple sectors now write about it on a daily basis. Where Apple leads, others follow.

Business finally seems to be waking up to the new world order. And while they may be hanging onto their PCs (you need something to sync mobile devices with) they're placing huge corporate orders for iPhones and iPads.

Wells Fargo, SAP and others are making huge orders now.

Wells Fargo spent two years studying the iPhone before making the decision to let its bankers use the Apple mobile, reports Bloomberg. Now bankers are also authorized to use iPads, using these recently at an investors conference in May.

Beyond banking, warehousing, hotels, restaurants and airlines are looking at or already using iPads. Delivery firm Arhaus Furniture is pushing 50 iPads out to drivers as a replacement for paper. After years of talk from Adobe, Apple's products are defining the paperless office.

Reps in 40 Daimler's Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the US are also using iPads.

For all these business applications there's an app for that, and if there isn't, there's a developer somewhere to help you build one.

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That's good, and the notion of always-connected computing devices for mobile workers isn't new, but existing offerings in this space have typically commanded premium costs.

Apple's move to license Exchange on the one hand, and the ability of Safari to access the 'real' web without leaky old Flash means its solutions -- already understood and used by consumers taking up positions at these firms and companies -- are gaining big time traction.

This is just one of the ways Apple is good for business.

The iPhone-led kick start of the mobile ads market is also looming, over the next five years, spending on mobile display ads in the US, estimated at just under $313 million today, will almost quadruple to exceed $1.2 billion in 2015, ABI Research said today.

You can say what you like about reality distortion: because from where Apple and its many AAPL shareholders are looking, Steve Jobs hasn't been distorting reality.

He's been creating it.

Full disclosure: I don't have any shares in Apple. But as the iPhone signal issue runs ever on and shares fall slightly, I can't help but think there's a buying opportunity looming as investors buy on the rumors and sell on the news. 

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