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The iPad's IT Pain and Promise

Just as IT departments get used to dealing with the likes of the iPhone, the iPad comes along and stands to create demand for the use of a device that doesn't provide the sort of security and management features administrators expect.

Just when mobile managers and IT departments started feeling comfortable supporting the iPhone, now comes the Apple's new handheld computer, the iPad. At first glance, Apple's iPad appears to be squarely aimed at consumers who want a mobile device that's bigger than a smartphone but smaller than a laptop for experiencing entertainment multimedia. But analysts say a closer evaluation shows that we'll be seeing the iPad in the enterprise as part of the emerging mobile office. While much has been said about the iPad's specs and multimedia functionality, analysts say the large screen and enterprise apps that it runs make it a good fit for certain businesses, though like the first iterations of the iPhone, there are mobile security and management challenges for IT.

"The iPad is clearly aimed at consumers, but Apple isn't completely ignoring the enterprise: e-mail, calendar and contacts are all built-in. Apple also rebuilt the iWork suite for the iPad, and then priced these relatively full function Office applications using the iPhone app pricing model -- just $10 each. "Even with iWork and a separate keyboard an iPad does not truly replace a notebook, but if you can get at least some work done on it, then it gives consumers another reason to buy an iPad, as a laptop replacement for short trips," Avi Greengart, research director of mobile and consumer devices at Current Analysis, said in a research note shared with EnterpriseMobileToday.com. While the tech industry still debates whether or not netbooks will replace laptops in the workplace -- and whether smartphones will eventually replace both -- Greengart sees the iPad as being a true enterprise-class mobile device based on one of its applications. "iWork's Numbers application can instantly churn out attractive forms, making the iPad one of the least expensive ways to do live surveys, check inventory or collect census data. Oddly, Apple only mentioned Numbers forms in passing," said Greengart. He goes on to say that a VGA adapter will be available for the iPad to allow presentations from the device to be shared in the workplace, another indication that we may be seeing the iPad in the boardroom.

Read "iPad Brings Mobile Computing to Enterprise" at Enterprise Mobile Today