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Apple's iPad 2 provokes IT anxiety

Matt Hamblen | March 4, 2011
User adoption of consumer-focused tablets for the workplace is 'tyranny,' one IT exec says

However, analysts argued that more needs to be done to satisfy corporate IT needs.

"Yes, there's excitement for what iPad 2 brings to business users, [but there's also] disappointment for how hard Apple makes it for enterprise IT to deploy and manage," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates. "Apple did not address this at all with iPad 2 or iOS 4.3. I think they missed an opportunity."

Apple might be planning other moves to satisfy enterprise needs, but IT managers will still have to work with third-party vendors such as Sybase, McAfee and MobileIron to manage and secure the iPad 2, Gold added.

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney said that Apple apparently feels that "the consumer is going to drive the enterprise." While Apple encourages businesses to adopt the iPad, it "has no intention of becoming a Dell, an HP or Lenovo as far as enterprise support."

A company with workers using Apple products must either provide back-end support to a limited number of applications or reorganize their entire support model to meet Apple's way of doing business, Dulaney said.

Another option would be for companies to buy iPad 2s and other mobile devices from third-party integrators that would be charged with "doing their best to support Apple products." But, he added, such support "will always be limited."

Corporate concerns over limited support from Apple are often fairly broad. Supporters of Apple in the workplace generally believe such criticism is unfair, given their believe that a new iPhone or iPad can significantly improve worker productivity.

Jude Olinger, CEO of The Olinger Group, said he sees both the potential workplace benefits and the likely support challenges of the coming iPad 2.

Olinger Group, a market research firm, bought 284 first-generation iPads last April for its representatives to conduct shopper surveys in-person at 134 U.S. shopping malls.

Olinger said he now plans to buy 20 of the new iPad 2 tablets, partly to try out the two-way FaceTime video chat capability. That new feature could allow home office personnel to observe or even participate in a remote survey.

"The front and rear camera will be very useful for training survey interviewers, for capturing qualitative information and for seeing nonverbal cues if we are interviewing a survey respondent," Olinger said.

But Olinger faulted Apple for its continued lack of Flash player support on the iPad, which prevents the playing of some videos. "It is a disappointment," he said. "I wish they had Flash support or a workaround."

 

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