Apple’s iPad has become an enterprise juggernaut. According to the most recent Good Technology Mobility Index Report, the iPad made up 81 percent of new enterprise tablet activations in Q1 2015. More impressive is that, of all the tablets in use in the enterprise a year ago, 92 percent were iPads.
Apple worked hard to make the iPad a machine that could be used by the average consumer, from toddlers to grandparents. But along the way, the iPad quickly became the go-to tablet for professionals. And, according to 451 Research’s Boris Metodiev, that was likely an afterthought.
“I don’t think that Apple initially envisioned that this could be a device used for enterprise uses,” he said.
Whether an elaborate plan or a happy accident, the iPad took the enterprise market by storm and ultimately forced Apple to take a different look at market opportunities in business and education.
Van Baker, a vice president and research director for Gartner, said that the history of the iPad in the enterprise started with BYOD.
“The uses started with, mostly, employees bringing them in, using their personal products to do basic productivity kinds of things like get to email, get to calendar and contacts, that kind of stuff,” Baker said.
Then, they began to extend use with licenses for other services and with apps optimized for the iPad’s larger screen. Third-party apps for common enterprise activities such as expense tracking and project management helped professionals get even more out of their iPads.
From that initial penetration through personal use, it gave the enterprise a deeper awareness of tablet technology, Baker said. Then, enterprises began to see how they could integrate iPads with their workforce by developing role-specific applications for specific use cases.
“In some instances because it was less expensive than using a PC, in some cases because it was more functional than a smartphone because of the screen real estate,” Baker said.
The iPhone may have signaled the start of Apple’s mobile journey, but the iPad became the bridge by which the Apple ecosystem crossed over into the enterprise market. Once the iPad became a fixture, it was easier for organizations to justify iPhone deployments, especially as they phased out legacy devices like BlackBerry and Windows Mobile. In some cases, it even opened the door to supporting MacBooks and iMacs.
Apple’s success with the iPad in the enterprise is multifaceted, but there are a few aspects that stick out. One is that Apple has a built-in fanbase.
“If they see that Apple is doing something new, if they see that Apple is really making an effort in the enterprise, they will just follow,” Metodiev said. “It is an inspirational brand name.”