New iPad not tooled for business, analysts say

As Apple aims its new iPad directly at its core consumers, the company has done little with its tablet to strengthen its position in the business technology market, several experts and business executives said after Apple unveiled the new device on Wednesday.

“The front-and-center, differentiating feature today was this retina display and amazing resolution,” Jim Farrell, senior director of leasing and brokerage at real estate services firm The Rappaport Companies, said in an interview. “But for the most part, that won’t be what gets a bunch of IT guys and big corporations off their .... and telling their bosses to get the new iPad because now it’s ready for business.”

Farrell’s company owns 11 iPad 2 tablets that brokers now use “religiously” to show property images, fliers and presentations to potential clients. But while he says the new iPad’s improved screen, camera and data speed should appeal to consumers who use tablets in their personal lives, nothing in Apple’s presentation will likely drive his company to upgrade to the latest version.

Technology analysts expect most companies to share that reaction.

“The application for the retina screen is the consumption of content, not the creation of content, so glossy magazines will look prettier, catalogues will look more interesting, movies will look more vibrant,” Colin Gillis of BGC Partners said in an interview. “Sure, maybe it will make a PowerPoint look better, too. But, for the most part, this is still focused as a media-consumption device.”

Still, that hasn’t prevented the second-generation iPad from starting to seep into the business work world. A new iPass study shows that more than half (64 percent) of all mobile workers now use a tablet on the job, with roughly two out of three using an iPad. Small and mid-sized businesses are also jumping on the bandwagon, with iPad usage among those firms jumping from 9 percent in 2010 to 34 percent in 2011, according a new study conducted by The Business Journals.

Those trends may grow with the new iPad, particularly in industries where a sharper, more colorful screen (think architecture and visual arts firms) and 4G networking (think data-processing firms) could significantly improve their products and services and give them a competitive edge.

“For anyone who runs their business using data and information processing, the difference in taking one second to input and five seconds to input makes an enormous difference,” Hugh Owen, director of mobile marketing at business intelligence solutions firm MicroStrategy, said in an interview. “This more powerful iPad could really be a dream come true for those companies.”

But for many others, the lure of the new iPad simply doesn’t outshine the capabilities of the previous version.

“My gut tells me that, for the business person, this amazing screen and other new features are not going to make such a massive difference that its hurts us if our competitors get it and we stick with the older model,” Farrell said.

Gillis doesn’t expect the new device to speed Apple’s progress into conference rooms and board meetings. Rather, he says, the company appears content to wade slowly into the business-to-business market as it builds even more momentum with its consumer base.

“Apple is slowly cracking away at enterprise, but there’s nothing here that really gives it that leap forward,” Gillis said. “Something like [Microsoft] Office or image projection hardware on the iPad could have driven it to become more of a productivity tool, but today, there was nothing that really changes the landscape.”

Follow On Small Business and J.D. Harrison .

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he manages the Post's On Small Business blog.
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