Apple’s devices are appearing more frequently in business, pointing to early success for the company’s push into the corporate sector.
In a study released Monday, IDG revealed more than 90 percent of iPad owners worldwide use the tablet primarily for work, and one in four iPad users surveyed got the device from their employer, highlighting increasing use of Apple’s tablet as a business tool.
The research also shows 12 percent of workers have entirely replaced their laptop with an iPad, and three out of four IDG survey respondents reported they “carry their laptop around less,” choosing the iPad as their go-to business device on most occasions.
Apple’s other products are gaining a corporate foothold as well. General Electric is conducting a pilot project that allows employees to choose Mac notebooks or desktops instead of Windows PCs. The company has about 1,000 Mac users and expects more employees to make the switch once the program gets wider promotion this year.
An Apple spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal the company is “excited” about programs like the one at GE. Getting more Macs on people’s desks provides an opening in businesses for Apple’s mobile devices, such as iPhones and iPads, because enterprises will be more likely to choose companion products that fit with the hardware and operating system they already use.
Apple’s high consumer appeal is also driving its business acceptance, as more people who use iPads and iPhones at home ask their employers to support the devices in the workplace, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Research firm Forrester estimates Apple will sell $9 billion worth of Macs and $10 billion in iPads to businesses this year, a 50 percent increase over last year. In comparison, corporate spending on PCs and tablets by other manufacturers is declining.
Apple has been carving an enterprise presence for the past year, hiring former NSA analyst David Rice as director of global security last January in an effort to improve encryption on the iPhone and iPad to increase their business appeal.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company also began offering technical service contracts for small businesses to support up to five systems of devices, unveiled a B2B App Store that lets employers buy bulk and custom apps for their employees, and released an unlocked version of the iPhone 4S to appeal to global business.
Apple’s growing presence in the corporate sector puts pressure on competing manufacturers. For decades, Windows-based PCs were standard in business settings, giving the advantage to manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo. However, Windows tablets and phones have yet to take off, leaving an opening for Apple to gain business users for the iPhone and iPad.
The decline of RIM’s BlackBerry also leaves an open spot for Apple to step into this year. Last year’s upheavals and outages at RIM are causing many enterprises to turn away from the company that made its name providing enterprise-secure devices. RIM is pinning recovery hopes on new smartphones using the updated BlackBerry 10 operating system, but OS delays and device cancellation rumors cast doubt on the company’s continued business appeal.
Apple’s corporate push shows it stands ready to take BlackBerry’s place in business, as well as challenge the business domination of PCs. As more people work remotely and on the go, they will increasingly turn to tablets and smartphones to meet their business needs, and Apple plans to have the secure, reliable devices these enterprises require.
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