What does the new iPad mean to business?

Expect it to push the bring-your-own-device trend in the workplace

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The minimal difference between the two for most business uses means iPad 2 purchases could save significant money in a number of situations: schools looking to roll out a one-iPad-per-student initiative; restaurants and retail establishments using iPads in kiosk deployments as digital menus or cash registers; and hospitality settings such as hotels, airplanes, and event venues, or even hospitals where devices are for patient use.

4G/LTE

The other big news about the new iPad is the option for 4G/LTE mobile broadband. For professionals on the go, access to LTE networks is extremely significant, particularly on Verizon, where the iOS personal hotspot feature can share the iPad's LTE connection with other devices. (AT&T will not allow this feature.)

For corporate-owned devices, this introduces the need for a new data plan or inclusion in a broader mobile calling-and-data package. For those reasons, any firms considering LTE models should discuss their options with their account managers. Given that the LTE bands in the new iPad appear to be specific to the U.S. and Canada, buying an LTE iPad for professionals that travel overseas might not be the best option. Even for workers in the U.S., it might make more sense to consider a Wi-Fi-only iPad and a separate LTE mobile hotspot. That's particularly true if you're working with AT&T and you or your employees need mobile broadband for multiple devices. For employee-owned devices, the choice of data plans and carriers is up to the individual.

Given the performance of LTE, however, the added expense might be worth it for business-owned devices and for employees who use their own iPad for work. LTE speeds can meet, and sometimes exceed, those of many public Wi-Fi networks. More importantly, public Wi-Fi networks often have limited security (if there's any security at all). LTE access used in combination with a VPN connection is better than using open public networks.

This is an area where cost-sharing between employee and employer -- in this case, the data plan if not the iPad itself -- should be considered. It's also a good starting point for reviewing mobile expenses and desired levels of service for data. As the transition to LTE continues, this is something that many businesses will need to tackle. Why not use the new iPad as a starting point?

The new iPad and BYOD

The new iPad by itself isn't likely to accelerate the adoption of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and consumerization-of-IT trends in the workplace. Yes, it is another piece of consumer technology that will quickly find its way into the workplace, adding to the number of iPad users out there. But that would've happened even without a new iPad.

That said, the new iPad and the $100 price-cut on the iPad 2 (to $399) are likely to have some indirect effects. The price drop could boost the iPad's market share by enticing buyers who thought the $499 price tag too steep or were considering a device like the Nook or Kindle Fire. The retina display and better graphics in the new iPad may also sway users from competing devices.

The more direct impact involves brand awareness and trust. With tens of millions of iPads already in use, their versatility and ease of use is now well-known; many users may simply feel more comfortable with the iPad compared to newer, less ubiquitous competitors. Some may even find it easier to use than with a PC or some other device. With three generations of iPads -- two of them available at diverging price points -- we're quickly approaching a time when it's common for households to have multiple iPads. That reinforces the comfort cycle as iPads become more integrated into daily life.

Greater market share, brand loyalty and user familiarity will allow Apple to solidify its position as the tablet leader. That should translate into a preference for the iPad over competitors in the office -- whether through BYOD or outright lobbying for the iPad as a business-provided option. At this point, the management capabilities of iOS also help promote the iPad as one of the most manageable mobile devices available.

iPad sales
Source: Apple earnings reports.

Although this may not actually boost the number of BYOD programs, it will help users grow even more comfortable in their own tech decisions -- and more adept at supporting technology themselves. This self-sufficient attitude, where people essentially become their own personal CIOs or IT departments, is a key driver of the entire consumerization-of-IT movement.

The new iPad vs. Windows 8 in the workplace

If the new iPad and the now-cheaper iPad 2 help Apple consolidate its place in business, that trend couldn't come at a better time. With Windows 8 tablets on the horizon, there will eventually be a showdown between Windows 8 and iOS, both at work and among consumers.

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