Apple's sales of iPads could reach 28 million units next year, according to one analyst's report this week. As the iPad wave continues, there are indications that the popular tablet is beginning to make entries into enterprises at a rate faster than other Apple products.
UBS Investment Research's Mayard Um said in a note to investors that his sales estimate could be "conservative," adding that the popularity of the device is expected to begin affecting sales of low-end notebooks. At the same time, he added, there is no evidence that it is affecting the sales of Macs.
iPads in Business
Um said that "consumers who purchase iPads may be more willing to delay purchases and upgrades of existing PCs." But, he added, because the iPad is not as functional as notebooks, "we are not sold that the iPad is purely cannibalizing PC sales." Um said that, in any case, manufacturers are feeling the need to release tablet competitors as quickly as possible, because of the threat to the lower end of their notebook products.
As iPads compete with other mobile computing devices, evidence is growing that the iPad is steadily moving into the enterprise. In the largest known deployment to date, SAP has distributed 1500 iPads to its employees. CIO Oliver Bussmann has indicated to news media that, within 12 months, there could be as many iPads in the company as there are BlackBerrys -- 17,000.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that a Chicago law firm, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal LLP, had previously banned the iPhone, but had pre-ordered 10 iPads prior to that device's release in April. Currently, more than four dozen of the firm's lawyers use an iPad, and more employees are expected to be offered an iPad in lieu of laptops next year.
Half of Fortune 100
Apple's Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, said during the summer than half of the Fortune 100 companies were testing or actively using iPads. Five hundred of the more than 10,000 iPad-specific, third-party applications are designed for business use.
One aspect of the iPad that is making it more acceptable by IT departments is that it runs the same OS as the iPhone, with which companies are increasingly familiar. The iPhone has been around long enough that it has become more enterprise-friendly, in such areas as Exchange compatibility, security, and technical management.
Other companies are using the tablet specifically because of its form factor, which accommodates employees who need to use a computer while standing. These include some Mercedes-Benz car dealerships, where iPads are used so that applying for credit can begin in the showroom while the potential customer is perusing the vehicle.
Medical labs, such as California-based Kaiser Permanente, are using iPads for viewing X-rays and CT scans. Other notable iPad adopters, on a deployment or trial basis, include Wells Fargo, Telllabs, Bausch & Lomb, and Lloyds of London.