Here was the pitch for the Apple iPad Pro: Massive 12.9-inch diagonal screen with 5.6 million pixels; 10 hours of battery life; graphics that are twice as fast as the last iPad and processing that's 1.8 faster. "It's faster than 90% of the portable PCs that shipped in the last 12 months," said Apple Senior VP Phil Schiller at this week's unveiling event. Throw in a stylus called Apple Pencil, a smart keyboard cover accessory similar to that of Microsoft's Surface; a partnership with the king of desktop computing; the hefty price tags and the message was clear:
"Apple is putting significant effort into directing experiences that are tailored to an enterprise user" on the new device, Jason Wudi, chief technology officer of JAMF Software LLC., told the Wall Street Journal.
Is the Apple iPad Pro tailor-made for the enterprise? Yes -- and no, according to a variety of enterprise experts.
A3: Yes, the iPad Pro is ready for the enterprise. I still use laptops to write code & novels though. #mobilebiz— Rob Tiffany (@RobTiffany) September 10, 2015
Industrial strength device in-the-making?
Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder predicts the Apple iPad Pro will appeal to "hyper-mobile workers" who need a bigger screen for conducting various business tasks. He added in an email, speaking of the iPad Pro: "Salespeople can use its larger screen and better audio to make presentations to customers. Vertical uses like medical imaging, construction documents, architecture, photography, field video work, and creative arts will benefit from the more-mobile form factor and some excellent existing apps. And it will be a popular BYOD device for workers."
Apple Pencil, which detects position, force and tilt, will be a welcome addition to the enterprise toolbox, according to Pictographics Inc. president and former CIO of Citigroup's Global Consumer Group, Harvey Koeppel.
"The Pencil will increase the number of industry specific applications and will further enhance Apple's position as an industrial-strength device with applications far outside the home," he said. "Since the iPad screen and Pencil are both pressure sensitive, in theory, much more accurate signature recognition will be possible."
According to a new Forrester report, the percentage of tablets in use for business is predicted to increase from 14% in 2015 to 20% by 2018. In addition, more than half of IT professionals surveyed reported that they already use a tablet at least once a week for work, many of them on personal devices rather than through their employer.
"My personal opinion is that they will adopt the technologies (following the usual rigorous religious wars), partly driven by BYOD and partly driven by deals that Apple is making with IBM, Cisco and other enterprise biggies," said Koeppel. "With BYOD continuing to gain momentum, especially with millennials, the line between enterprise and home devices continues to blur, which gives Apple the advantage."
Indeed, Apple iPad Pro already seems to have won over Koeppel's former employer, Citi Bank, which has expressed an interest in giving employees the device.
Still, "at least once a week," is a long way from 40-plus hours a week.
While Forrester research suggests that more companies are willing to invest in tablets for their employees, and nearly a third of companies surveyed already provide tablets for work use, this week's news is no paradigm shift, according to Gownder.
"Apple's iPad Pro is not a laptop killer for the enterprise," he told me. "While iOS-centric companies will replace it, there's an app gap: the difference between the number of apps available on PCs and mobile devices today is too large for most businesses to use iPad Pro as a laptop-replacement."
Jonathan Reichental, CIO of Palo Alto, Calif., said the same, calling out the iPad Pro's inability to run the millions of enterprise applications that many businesses use as a "major limitation." Most of the City of Palo Alto's near 320 technology solutions, for example, wouldn't run on an iPad, he said.
Pro vs. Pro
J.P. GownderForrester analyst
And many, like Bob Egan, C-Level advisor and founder of Sepharim Group, viewed Apple's revamped enterprise strategy as market jockeying in the face of the recent double-digit decline in consumer tablet sales and stiffer enterprise competition.
"I think the iPad Pro is purely a defensive move by Apple to fend off Microsoft Surface Pro advances. Microsoft's Surface Pro is taking a big bite out of Apple and Apple's sagging iPad sales show it," Egan said by email.
"While tablets are growing in the enterprise, there are some benefits associated with Windows tablets that are now becoming clear: Legacy application support, device management (being able to domain-join), the use of a mouse (for applications like spreadsheets)," said Forrester's Gownder.
Californian Reichental prefers to see the companies' competitive relationship as a "win-win."
"Apple needs Microsoft Office to perpetuate iOS in the enterprise and Microsoft needs Apple to keep Microsoft relevant and expand their footprint."
Now that's a paradigm shift.
CIO news roundup for week of Sept. 7
Here are more technology headlines from the week:
- Be careful what you do in your backyard; the drones might be watching. California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have banned drones from flying lower than 350 feet over private property without permission.
- Speaking of privacy, the U.S. government is fighting to have access to private data on devices, but Apple, Microsoft and other tech companies are resisting. The battle over data collection is sure to continue in the coming months.
- Quantum computing may soon find its way into the market, thanks to big-name investments. The latest company to capitalize on the technology is Intel, which announced a $50m investment in QuTech's quantum computing research.
- Mobile payments just got a little easier for Android users with the official launch of Google's Android Pay. "We will continue to add even more features, banks, and store locations in the coming months," Google said.
Head over to SearchMobileComputing to explore how the Apple iPad Pro compares to Microsoft's Surface Pro