by Cynthia Wilson | February 5, 2012 6:00 am
More people in the U.S. are taking their Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad to work to help them get the job done. An IDG Connect survey found that 51% of managers with iPads say they “always” use the device at work, while 40% sometimes do, and 79% say they use the iPad for business when outside the office.
In particular, the multifunction, touchscreen favorite is making headway as a business tool in the pharmaceutical and financial services industries, where sales representatives use the tablets to show product information to clients. Banks and financial services firms also have developed iPad-compatible software applications that let clients check accounts without logging into their PCs. It’s not much of a stretch to suspect that iPad adoption could become widespread in other industries, including healthcare, education, music, retail, and those offering residential and commercial real estate services.
Much of what’s driving iPad adoption in the workpace, however, seems to be based less on anything Apple is doing than on momentum from the product’s popularity as a consumer item. Many employees already have an iPhone and an iPad, and because both devices share Apple’s iOS 5 operating system, one device can be used to access information on the other. So ease use and convenience are factors. Also, many iPhone and iPad users like the available security features, which, via any of a variety of mobile apps, allow them to track the location of a lost or stolen device and lock up or wipe away sensitive information that may be stored on it.
Although Apple hasn’t been especially aggressive in advancing adoption among business users, it does have a purchasing program that lets businesses place large orders for iPad apps. No longer will each employee have to go to his or her iTunes account and enter a code and personal credit card number. The change likely will entice more industries to consider the transition from Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows-based PCs, a trend that last year contributed to a 1.4% decline in worldwide PC sales last year.
Of course not all businesses will be easily lured from using a Windows-based operating system as their standard business tool. Industries with centralized operations and a need or desire for control over the information that employees carry on their mobile devices likely will be more tentative about making the transition to tablets. Such industries may include security companies or those that are more dependent on government contracts.
That should help Microsoft maintain ties with corporations when it releases Windows 8 later this year. But Microsoft also is counting on Windows 8 to help it make inroads in the tablet market and make up for losses stemming from growing consumer disinterest in PCs.
The tablet-friendly version of Microsoft’s popular operating system will be capable of running Microsoft Office, which is more widely used in business. It also will provide very similar user experience across Windows 8-based phones, PCs, and the next version of the Xbox game console. Microsoft also says that more than 100,000 Windows Phone 7.5-compatible apps will be available and working by the time WP8 launches.
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