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Monday, July 26, 2010

iPad for Business? About the why ...

13:09 Monday, July 26, 2010 Posted by Markus Eisele
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I am playing around a bit with the iPad since some weeks. And a while ago I told you, that I am not going to buy one. This did not change for me personaly. But what I have seen is, that there is growing interest in the device and the possible usecases with business customers. This is hard to believe on the first look. But if you take some time to think about this, you know why. This is a brief introduction into the topic. Why there is such a hype about the iPad for business and what are the basics behind it.
Upcomming posts will talk about the technical details and design approaches. Stay tuned for this.

The younger history
Apple sold more than 3 million devices in the 80 days after its introduction in the US. The press release states that the iPad is
.. a revolutionary and magical product that allows users to connect with their apps, content and the Internet in a more intimate, intuitive and fun way than ever before.
(Source: Apple Sells Three Million iPads in 80 Days)
It's hard to follow, if you are not an Apple fanboy, but what is shure is, that Apple is able to build up a magical hype around their product like they did before with others. A more recent survey done by Citrx shows that 56% of the companys are willing to buy iPads.
Note that this informal survey was completed by 558 individuals who came to the Citrix web site and had an interest in the iPad. This means they are predominantly Citrix customers who understand the capability to safely enable access to company apps and data in the data center.
(Source: Citrix blog

Built-in Apps for business?
Apple launched a seperate iPad for business page. If you google around for the words iPad and business you get there directly. According to this, Apple is willing to let you go into business with their built-in applications. These are namely:
  • Email, Calendar, and Contacts.
  • Safari web browser.
  • iWork for iPad (Keynote, Pages, and Numbers)
Beside this, you get built-in security and easy configuration together with beautifull accessories. But, hey, is this realy the way, Apple likes to see their products beeing used in business? As a briefcase, a whiteboard and a dashboard replacement with email and calendar? Next big thing for Apple in terms of business is the basic integration approach for enterprise infrastructure. If you are willing to integrate the iPad to your enterprise you can look at Apple's
Enterprise Deployment Scenarios (PDF). They describe how to integrate the iPad into enterprise environments. Based on the following products and standards:
  • Microsoft Exchange
  • IMAP, CalDAV, and LDAP
  • Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • WPA2 Enterprise/802.1X
  • Digital Certificates
  • Device Configuration Overview
  • Over-the-Air Enrollment and Configuration
All this sounds quite nice. But I was still missing the real usecases behind this.

What is ready to add?
Let's look at this in more detail. If you are not comfortable with the built-in apps and you are willing to use more of your business applications and infrastructure, than you have to go for the apps. Apps is an abbreviation for application. An app is a piece of software. Many vendors refer to their services as "App". But to me it seems as if this is more closer related to iOS apps than to any other product or service. The Appstore hosts roughly 225.000 Apps (May 2010, Source: http://www.onlinemba.com/blog/apps/). There even is a separate apps for work category. The number of showcased applications is not too big. A category search for "business" apps on the appstore reveals more apps but there are enough not realy related inbetween. But you might find usefull things like a FedEx.
The most usable thing you can get is the Citrix Receiver App for the iPad. It gives you access to all of your corporate Windows applications and desktops. (visit the product page for more information)

Why should you care for the iPad?
That's all nice information. But what about reading sooo much text on a development blog? And why the hell should you care about the iPad?
According to the results of the Citrix survey, most people are willing to use the iPad for increased mobility (80%) and improved productivity (74%). 62% of the participators are hoping to get business information and dashboards on it. If you compare this to the sold devices and the available apps, you get a business case. If you have a customer working with your apps, he is most likely going to have an iPad soon. Go: Make your applications ready for the it and sell it to him!

Second part in the series: What and how to create.