Look around any public place — the mall, the airport, the library, etc. — and chances are you’ll see at least one person carrying or using a tablet-style computer.
Ever since Apple Inc. released the iPad in April 2010, tablets — or slates, depending on your preference — have hit the market in droves, flying off the shelves as quickly as stores can restock. (HP Slate 500, released in late October, was on six-week back order as of our December press date.) And while the first wave of the devices has been geared to the consumer, a new breed aimed at the enterprise is now making its way on the scene. But will they translate into opportunity for channel partners?
Business Opportunity. Market research also has set the tone for tablets’ popularity. ABI Research Inc. forecasts sales of the iPad will reach more than 57 million units by 2015. And according to market research firm iSuppli Corp., the iPad will account for almost 75 percent of tablet-style shipments globally this year, with that number expected to decrease only slightly by 2012 to 62 percent.
Other research shows that tablet devices eventually will take the place of secondary PCs — a recent study of 500 U.S.-based iPad users or future buyers by Technology Business Research Inc. found that about a third replaced or will replace their PC with the iPad, while almost half use their iPad as their primary computing device.
While tablets are nifty consumer devices, how well do they translate into the business space? Is there indeed a market for tablets in the enterprise beyond the gee-whiz factor?
“I believe an opportunity exists — tablets have produced more of a frenzy in the market than almost any other technology in any category, thanks in large part to the iPad," said Brian Corey, president for enterprise services at Brightstar Corp., a services and solution provider focusing on the wireless market. “These devices are so popular, an opportunity exists regardless of whether the device is consumer- or enterprise-focused."