Apple iPad Blurs Enterprise and Consumer Market Segments

By Gary Kim January 28, 2011

The Apple iPad might be the first device that equally easily spans both the consumer mass market user and the enterprise executive portion of the market. "Executives don't actually create much content," a chief technology officer says. "They just check e-mail, mostly." 

That means the use model for both consumers and many enterprise users is essentially the same. They use the iPad for content consumption. Granted, a smartphone is a multi-function device that must handle voice as well as e-mail, texting and web-based apps. 

But there are other applications that are logical drivers for an iPad or tablet use case. Many employees with sales functions make customer presentations, and one could argue a tablet can replace a PC for such purposes. Of course, right now, in most cases, the presentation will have to be created on a PC and copied over to the tablet. 

The always-interesting angle is when a new device or application "uncovers" or "surfaces" some new or better way to use technology. Some enterprise executives have, for some time, traveled only with a BlackBerry, leaving their PCs (notebooks) at home. 

That works fine for a user who mostly just has to check e-mail when traveling. Tablets. on the other hand, reinforce that notion, allowing traveling workers to check and reply to email and consume other content the same way they might using a smartphone, but with a bigger screen and easier navigation. 

The implication is that many users have been using appliances that represent more functionality than needed. For the most part, many users appear not to have needed peripheral support, dedicated keyboards or even on-board applications requiring a hard disk drive. One is tempted to see this as a success for "thin clients." It might be more appropriate to say the iPad is the first "Web appliance" that makes sense for lots of people. 

Gary Kim is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Gary’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

Contributing Editor

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