The Redpark Ethernet Cable ($89) for iPad and iPhone enables field service technicians to use iOS devices in their work – it means they won’t need to carry laptops, netbooks or single use proprietary terminals to get things done.
The cable is a specialized version of a USB to Ethernet adaptor (limited to 5Mbps) that works with the RedSocket SDK and enterprise developed apps to enable field technicians to connect iOS devices to equipment via an Ethernet cable in order to configure or troubleshoot this kit.
So why is this more exciting than the hidden port on the Apple Watch? (Given that Apple is unlikely to deliver straps equipped with their own battery and 4G support just yet)…
It’s all about the enterprise.
“You recently wrote about ‘Apple’s Enterprise Credentials Continuing to Grow’,” explains Mike Ridenhour, Redpark Product Development, “I think the best way to view our serial and ethernet cables is as a piece of Apple’s enterprise initiative.”
Enterprise users are steadily replacing laptops and specialty terminals (i.e POS terminals) with iPads and iPhones, but as this transition takes place some businesses require the traditional I/O capability of legacy devices.
“Our cables enable enterprises to connect an iPad/iPhone to equipment that that they use in operating their business each day,” said Ridenhour. “Enterprise customers are now using Redpark cables to connect the iPad/iPhone to routers and switches, cable TV set top boxes, gas meters, electrical relays, propane pumps, flow controllers, barcode scanners, receipt printers, motor drives, seismometers, intelligent door locks, elevator control equipment….”
In the backroom
That’s an extensive list of solutions already in use in homes, offices, factories, warehouses, energy utilities, oil rigs, space stations and who knows where else.
It is difficult to assess the size and value of this market, but Grand View Research valued the global POS terminals market at over $30 billion in 2012. It’s not just about POS equipment, either, think about the 2,050 self-service betting terminals installed across the UK’s Ladbroke’s betting shop chain – and then consider all those self-service terminals across retail.
That you can now use an iOS device for the diagnosis and maintenance of such equipment is a huge deal – it means Apple devices can now compete with those “dumb” limited use terminals that have been propping up the ailing Windows market; it also opens up fresh opportunities for developers.
That’s a pretty big market.
Today’s digital enterprises already use iOS devices for most everything, so why not also use them for enterprise IT?
This solution means tech support teams can use the same tools in their work as are already used for communication and collaboration elsewhere across your enterprise.
I don’t believe every field service engineer will get hold of this inexpensive cable in order to use an Apple device to do his or her work. What I do believe is that this new cable shows us the extent to which Apple's solutions are becoming credible alternatives across industries that were traditionally closed to it.
The cable takes Apple another step towards becoming a peer player as a solution within the enterprise infrastructure markets. And, of course, in future opens up another market for the Apple Watch.
And that’s going to get even more exciting soon.
Google+? If you use social media and happen to be a Google+ user, why not join AppleHolic's Kool Aid Corner community and join the conversation as we pursue the spirit of the New Model Apple?
Got a story? Drop me a line via Twitter or in comments below and let me know. I'd like it if you chose to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when fresh items are published here first on Computerworld.