The iPad…more than a toy, but less than a laptop


I just got my new iPad and within a few hours, I was hooked on my new toy. After watching Letterman, I was thankful to learn I was in good company with my new addiction. When someone suggested I sync my tablet with my work email account, I wondered why would I want to pollute my fun. I finally relented, and once I began sending and receiving my business email, I realized entire nights and weekends passed without my needing to boot up my laptop. I could rely solely on my iPad for certain business purposes, and it appears I am not alone in this revelation. The ipad has become more than a toy for certain businesses and as Deloitte predicts more than 25 percent of all tablet computers will be bought by enterprises in 2011, and that number is likely to rise in 2012 and beyond. With those figures, could the iPad replace the business laptop?

As the Deloitte article points out, there are concerns around security, the cost of support, and price, but as iPad use continues to grow – and it will – support costs very well may go down. The average cost of laptop support for an enterprise is $20 to $25 per month. If we assume the cost to support an iPad is roughly similar to the cost to support a blackberry (i.e., $6 per month) that translates to significant savings to support an iPad over a laptop. For example, an enterprise with 30,000 end users would spend roughly $7.92M per year (assuming an average of $22 per month) in laptop support, but the same enterprise would spend only $2.16M in iPad support. This delta amounts to $5.76M savings per annum. With these savings, the cost to purchase the iPad devices (at approximately $600 each) would be entirely recouped in a little over 3 years. In this light, the iPad is most definitely more than a toy – instead, it could be employed as a potential cost saving strategy for certain enterprise users.

As it stands now, certain large international financial institutions are requiring their executives to travel with an iPad as the portability, battery life, and mobile internet connection make supporting such executive more efficient. Executives can easily receive, download, and project last minute updates to board presentations. Companies are also giving their mobile workforce CRM and other corporate systems designed for tablets. For example, some pharmaceutical companies are providing sales representatives with tablets.

The following list shows the percentage of companies using tablets for various applications:
• Internet access (73%)
• Checking email (69%)
• Working away from the office (67%)
• Sales support (46%)
• Customer presentations (45%)
• Laptop replacement (38%)

Though security is potentially still a big issue, as enterprises address these risks as well as functionality of the devices increase, tablets may well displace the laptop as the default mobile device for certain classes of professionals. The potential reduction in the cost of end user support is likely to drive increased enterprise use of the tablet over the next few years.