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Will Apple's latest iPad announcement reel in the business crowd?

Yesterday's Apple event featured a sleeker iPad Air. But are its upgrades enough to help drive Apple's tablets into the enterprise? Also in Searchlight: Google arms its phones with a 'kill switch'; Facebook and Apple offer egg freezing perks.

Though it has only been a month since Apple's last product launch, this week's top headlines were again buzzing with another big iOS unveiling. The question is whether the big news is all that big, in particular for CIOs.

The updates included Apple Pay's official launch date, the WatchKit for developers, rollouts of OS X Yosemite and iOS 8.1, its new iMac with Retina display, and a whole lot of numbers and pictures. There was plenty of fanfare. CEO Tim Cook and senior engineer Craig Federighi even managed to poke fun at Apple's recent iCloud security struggles -- with the help of none other than Stephen Colbert. But center stage was the second iteration of iPad Air and the new iPad Mini 3.

"The iPad is everywhere," Cook proclaimed at the event. "It's transforming the way we communicate." The communication part might be right, but the iPad's ubiquity rang a little hollow, given recent market reports.

While the iPad's share of the global market still leads those of Apple rivals Samsung and Lenovo by about 10% and 22%, respectively, its sales have actually declined about 9% year over year, according to research firm IDC. Plus, tablet shipments in general also look gloomy, Gartner reported: Shipments are up only 11% this year, dramatically down from the 55% increase between 2010 and 2013. As the New York Times' story on Apple's news noted, there are many possible reasons why iPad sales are lagging while its smartphone business thrives, including the consumer preference for both cheaper tablets and phablets, the smartphone-tablet hybrids that have rendered the tablet redundant for many users. And, surprise, surprise, it seems the PC is not dead yet.

But what about the iPad in the enterprise, you say? "The penetration is low, and the ceiling is so far above us it's unbelievable," Cook said. So is the glass is half-empty or half-full?

Earlier this summer we cautioned CIOs to hold off on equipping enterprise employees with tablets to replace PCs to do work: "Unless there is a compelling reason for workers to use the current versions of tablets, it won't happen," wrote SearchCIO's Emily McLaughlin. Apple hopes to change that through its partnership, announced last summer, with old rival IBM to offer enterprise software services. Chris Hazelton of 451 Research, among others, believes the partnership will bear fruit if the applications really do improve work productivity.

"The next kind of stage of innovation in this market is really going to be software-driven," said Hazelton to the Times.

Apple's new iPad Air will be thinner than a pencil, come equipped with a Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a faster processor, have a battery life of 10 hours and will be available in gold. That's pretty thrilling, but for enterprise use, sleek, fast and long-lasting is not enough.

CIO news roundup for week of Oct. 13

In other technology news:

  • Google weighed in with its own announcement this week. It rolled out Lollipop, version 5 of its Android OS, complete with a striking new feature: an opt-in "kill switch" that lets users remotely wipe their phone if it falls into the wrong hands.
  • Facebook and Apple have a controversial solution for female employees trying to balance career and family: egg freezing. Facebook started covering egg freezing expenses in January and Apple will follow suit next year. Outraged? This person contends it is not such a bad idea.
  • Oops, false alarm: Dropbox stated on Monday that a hacker's claim of having stolen 7 million Dropbox accounts' information is false, saying that the usernames and passwords were obtained from unrelated services.
  • Google, meanwhile, has discovered the POODLE bug, a vulnerability in SSL 3.0; the protocol, an ancient 18 years old, is still supported by almost all browsers, which fall back on it when connections fail. Read Google's blog post for its plans to address the matter.
  • More and more coding boot camps are popping up across the nation, challenging traditional models of higher education while aiming to address the industry's acute need for programmers.

Check out our previous Searchlight roundups on HP's split-up and the New York Times' mobile app woes.

Next Steps

Read more about how Apple has disrupted its culture through its alliance with IBM. Then, read how this partnership was greeted by IT insiders.

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Will Apple's recent updates to the iPad be enough to stoke businesses' interest?
I think the TouchID addition will be valuable for businesses. People won't have to plug in their long passwords. All they need to do now is unlock them with the touch of a finger.
good point! i can see that improving user experience/ease of use + helping security efforts
I don't think Apple can make any updates that will make enterprises want the iPad - the change will need to come from the businesses and finding use cases that make sense (and potentially some third-party apps that enable business productivity). 
I've been using iPad's in my enterprise for 3 years.  The Air makes it better.  My colleagues have their desktop available to them wherever they go using the iPad and VMWare View.  PC's are dead.  My users have a monitor, mouse, keyboard and an iPad.
How big is your enterprise, Danback? Do you think others share your view? I've been hearing that PCs are dead for a while now, but I still see a heckuva lot of them around my organization and others. 
Admittedly, my organization is a small one (well, small in the sense that we are a remote division of a larger company) and in our space,the iPad is a nice portable tool to use in conjunction with our larger systems (usually a MacBookPro or MacBookAir). I don't currently see the iPad taking a large enough bite out of the flow of what we do to make a big impact on our realities, but it's a nice side tool. I'd guess until we either develop tools that are more streamlined, or that make users want to use them over pulling out their laptops, that they will remain a niche item for our business, and I would guess many others.