IT interest in iPad surges, survey shows

Upcoming iOS 4.2 update could mean more tablet deployments

A recent survey of nearly 1,200 IT professionals found strong interest in deploying iPads and other Apple iOS products for use inside their organizations.

The survey by BoxTone, a mobile service management software vendor, found that 73% of the 1,165 IT pros in the survey expect to pilot or deploy the Apple iPad, iPhone or other iOS device within the next year; 28% plan for a pilot or deployment "immediately."

The survey involved IT pros from North America attending three Boxtone Webinars in October on the topic of securing and managing iPads, meaning the respondents were already pre-disposed to consider iPads and were certainly a more iOS-centric audience than all IT managers.

Still, the findings show a stronger interest in the iPad than previously expected, said Brian Reed, chief marketing officer at BoxTone. "There's a huge spike in iPad interest," he said.

BlackBerry devices are still central to many enterprises, but the iPhone and iPad innovations have impressed IT professionals, he said.

He said many IT managers are impressed with the security of iOS 4.2 and mobile device management, as well as the ability to write or use business applications with the iPad. It also helps iPad adoption that both AT&T and Verizon Wireless can bulk order iPads in thousands of units at a time from Apple, giving customers easier access to the product with the potential for corporate pricing, Reed said. Verizon began selling the iPad with a MiFi mobile hotspot on Oct. 28.

Half of the 1,200 surveyed said they plan to deploy at least one iPad application for their business users in the next year, Reed said.

Of the 1,165 in the survey, 68% were from large companies with more than 1,500 workers, he said.

Maribel Lopez, an analyst at Lopez Research, said the BoxTone survey validates what she has heard from companies about the value of the iPad. Easy-on capabilities make it faster to get information and take actions, which can improve customer service, she noted.

Health care and retail businesses have been the biggest iPad early adopters, but the types of ,a href="http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9187538/Baron_analysts_using_iPads_over_fast_802.11n_network">businesses using the iPad is broad, analysts said.

Reed said the iPad was early to market, which is always an advantage for newer technologies. Because of that, he said, Android devices such as the Galaxy Tab computer and a variety of other Android devices will probably do well, but will likely be behind the iPad for some time. "IPad is here now," he noted. "They caught the wave, and in some ways made the wave."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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