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Apple distributor sees increased interest in iPad among businesses

post #1 of 11
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An executive from Ingram Micro, one of Apple's largest distributors, revealed Thursday that Apple is allowing the firm to pursue enterprise sales of the iPad, as businesses express increasing interest in purchasing the touchscreen tablet.

Ingram Micro CEO Greg Spierkl told Reuters in an interview that Apple in the past has preferred to sell the iPad to retailers, but has recently become more amenable to selling it to businesses as well.

"What it's telling us is that there's a (business to business) opportunity starting to develop for these devices, which is not necessarily where they were targeted initially," said Spierkel, who went on to cite sales representatives in the field as one "significant use" of tablets by businesses.

Apple has increasingly relied on Ingram Micro and other distributors to market its products to businesses, reportedly going so far as to lay off 50 of its enterprise salespeople in March of last year.

In the most recent quarter, Apple sold a record 4.19 million iPads, but Wall Street analysts expressed disappointment over the figure.

During the company's Q4 2010 conference call, Apple CEO Steve Jobs highlighted enterprise sales of the iPad as a growth opportunity for the company.

"We haven't pushed it [the iPad] real hard in business, and it's being grabbed out of our hands," Jobs said.

"We've got a tiger by the tail here, and this is a new model of computing which we've already got tens of millions of people trained on with the iPhone, and that lends itself to lots of different aspects of life, both personal and business," he said.

According to Apple executives, over 65 percent of the Fortune 100 are already deploying or trying the iPad, including Procter & Gamble, Lowes, NBC Universal and Hyatt.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg published a report saying that Apple had contracted with Unisys Corp to sell its products to corporations and government agencies. Unisys will "provide maintenance and other services to companies and government agencies that purchase Apple devices," the report said.

Gene Zapfel, a managing partner at Unisys, said the deal was a first for Apple. Most of those organizations are still pretty heavily [Windows] PC-based, Zapfel said. Apple is going to crack the nut and clients are going to start buying a lot more.

Wells Fargo and Mercedes-Benz were some of the first companies to try out the iPad for business purposes. A June survey by Citrix found that 80 percent of its business users planned to buy an iPad.
post #2 of 11
I know a number of CEOs who are extremely interested in having their staff use iPad's, but none of them will commit until they are more practical to use.

Attachments in mail cannot be saved to Dropbox, file transfer cannot be performed with a flash drive. Until Apple build in the ability to move files as needed, certainly between applications, and stop this silly restriction of 'you must physically connect to iTunes' to manipulate your data, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in terms of business acceptance.

Another barrier is printing, and although addressed to some extent already with apps and the soon to appear Air Print, it will take time to be overcome.
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by greekmango View Post

I know a number of CEOs who are extremely interested in having their staff use iPad's, but none of them will commit until they are more practical to use.

Attachments in mail cannot be saved to Dropbox, file transfer cannot be performed with a flash drive. Until Apple build in the ability to move files as needed, certainly between applications, and stop this silly restriction of 'you must physically connect to iTunes' to manipulate your data, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in terms of business acceptance.

Another barrier is printing, and although addressed to some extent already with apps and the soon to appear Air Print, it will take time to be overcome.

You make good points. With a renewed focus on going after enterprise / business customers, I'm willing to bet the next iOS presention in March when they introduce "iOS 5" will be heavily geared towards enterprise / business features.
post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by greekmango View Post

I know a number of CEOs who are extremely interested in having their staff use iPad's, but none of them will commit until they are more practical to use.

Attachments in mail cannot be saved to Dropbox, file transfer cannot be performed with a flash drive. Until Apple build in the ability to move files as needed, certainly between applications, and stop this silly restriction of 'you must physically connect to iTunes' to manipulate your data, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in terms of business acceptance.

Another barrier is printing, and although addressed to some extent already with apps and the soon to appear Air Print, it will take time to be overcome.

Agreed. It's good that you don't have to wrestle with an overly complex file system but they need to develop a way to share documents between applications in a simple and intuitive way. And wifi syncing that occurs as soon as you walk into your house is something I'm surprised we don't already have.
post #5 of 11
Most of those questions can be answered by someone who's writing apps.
post #6 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eideard View Post

Most of those questions can be answered by someone who's writing apps.

Ideally, it should be a core part of the OS, not an app.
post #7 of 11
These questions could also be answered by a jailbreak (And yes, I know that is a terrible idea/security risk for enterprises, just having a bit of fun)
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post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by greekmango View Post

I know a number of CEOs who are extremely interested in having their staff use iPad's, but none of them will commit until they are more practical to use.

Attachments in mail cannot be saved to Dropbox, file transfer cannot be performed with a flash drive. Until Apple build in the ability to move files as needed, certainly between applications, and stop this silly restriction of 'you must physically connect to iTunes' to manipulate your data, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in terms of business acceptance.

Another barrier is printing, and although addressed to some extent already with apps and the soon to appear Air Print, it will take time to be overcome.

Most of these issues (opening mail attachments in other apps, move files between apps, and printing) are already addressed in iOS 4.2. The catch is that the apps themselves need to identify themselves as being able to support that file, which is really easy to do. Furthermore, businesses have the option to create their own apps for internal distribution and they don't have to go through Apple App store approval process.

I don't know how you expect to perform file transfer with a flash drive. The thing doesn't even have a USB port!

I believe the the reason most businesses are interested in the iPad is because they can have almost complete control over the device. I worked in a place that disables the PCs USB ports and blocks any method of getting files out of the PC. With the iPad, businesses can disable app installation and have only what they want their employees to use.
post #9 of 11
Seriously if you buy hardware designed for another market you as a business will have to accept some of the short comings. It is no different than buying a half tony truck to run a earth moving business.

That being said does anyone here really expect Apple to support Dropbox? Frankly I agree with one common issue here which is the storage of files on the platform. It does make it difficult to do some simple things, like create account or product specific directories to organize things. Especially PDFs and other commonly used file formats.

I actually thought iBooks was going to be the answer there but right now it has zero capacity to organize anything. IBooks could have been a good solution for storing or organizing PDFs but unfortunately not in this release. It is one thing to implement security schemes to confine data but once that is done why can't the app allow for organization within its jail?

In any event I think the really big draw for iPad right at the moment is sales. It is the perfect machine for sales reps to call on customers with. Further it is easy to write software for. Locally that is where iPad is being pushed or maybe I should say investigated for.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by NasserAE View Post

Most of these issues (opening mail attachments in other apps, move files between apps, and printing) are already addressed in iOS 4.2. The catch is that the apps themselves need to identify themselves as being able to support that file, which is really easy to do. Furthermore, businesses have the option to create their own apps for internal distribution and they don't have to go through Apple App store approval process.

This is certainly an improvement but it is not really addressing the issue of managing your data. At least most apps I have installed offer up little in the way of ability to manage your data files.

This is probably an issue with the app writer but Apple isn't setting any good examples here. Being able to irganize your machine is what business use is all about.
Quote:
I don't know how you expect to perform file transfer with a flash drive. The thing doesn't even have a USB port!

Well a lot of us are hoping for such a port! Then there is the camera connection kit. I understand what you are saying but lets face it iPad is a little short on storage, supporting the reading of documents off of a USB port Flash stick could be very useful in some situations.
Quote:
I believe the the reason most businesses are interested in the iPad is because they can have almost complete control over the device.

Bingo! Beyound that it should be more resistant to viruses and such thus cutting support expenses.
Quote:
I worked in a place that disables the PCs USB ports and blocks any method of getting files out of the PC. With the iPad, businesses can disable app installation and have only what they want their employees to use.

I know of such places myself. Their is good reason for that in some cases. However that control gives the company other advantages too. One is that your software isn't going to run anywhere else. At least not without effort. Plus the platform is easy to develop for. In some cases iPad can be a big win for business. The case will be even stronger when iPad two comes out with more RAM.
post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by greekmango View Post

I know a number of CEOs who are extremely interested in having their staff use iPad's, but none of them will commit until they are more practical to use.

Attachments in mail cannot be saved to Dropbox, file transfer cannot be performed with a flash drive. Until Apple build in the ability to move files as needed, certainly between applications, and stop this silly restriction of 'you must physically connect to iTunes' to manipulate your data, they are cutting off their nose to spite their face in terms of business acceptance.

Another barrier is printing, and although addressed to some extent already with apps and the soon to appear Air Print, it will take time to be overcome.

There is a presumption that all businesses use iPads as a substitute for laptops instead of the purpose they were designed for: as a media consumption device. I just saw one tonight on CNN. The on camera guy was holding it on the palm of one hand with some kind of loop on the back as he spoke. He was using finger gestures on the iPad to preview and call up images on the big display flat screen behind him. Much better than turning away from the camera to manipulate icons and images across that huge screen. I'm not saying the issues you raise aren't valid. I'm just saying the there are areas already in businesses where the iPad is the best tool for the job without any further enhancements.
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