It’s a funny story: Apple consider itself a consumer-oriented company and has never made great efforts to penetrate the business arena. During the keynote presentation at SAPPHIRE 2012 this year at Madrid Mr.Snabe (CO-CEO of SAP) told the audience that some years ago after the launch of the iPhone 3G when SAP was showcasing first prototypes of Apps integrated with it’s own back-office applications, Steve Jobs has asked “What on earth are you doing? iPhone is a consumer device, not a business one!”. As much as it’s true that Apple is not making any visible efforts to push it’s products into the corporate environment there are a couple of hidden messages that indicate the contrary:
- the introduction of support for Microsoft Exchange starting with iPhone 3G. Before 2008 I have had a plethora of “smart” phones: Nokia 9300, Palm Treo 750, SonyEricsson P800 and although they seemed to be targeted at the business user none (with the exception of Palm Treo as it was running Windows Mobile 5.2) supported Microsoft Exchange natively. When iPhone 3G was launched blew out the water any other device that claimed Exchange support with it’s brilliant easy of use and faultless performance.
- the introduction of the iOS Developer Enterprise Program, less known simply because the target is the enterprise itself and no flashy adverts are accompanying the Apps.
- the subtle support that Apple devices provide for enterprise management, allowing them to be so popular in the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) scheme.
The result is that an unexpected number of Apple devices have made roads into the companies’ IT landscape and the process is accelerating. With the introduction of the iPad most of the executives see no reason why a 3Kg laptop needs to be carried around when the same activities can be performed with a 650g device.
Enter iPad mini. At practically the same technical specs as his great uncle iPad 2 the iPad mini is half the weight (just over 300g) and can be hold with one hand. Here is the big catch:
I believe that the iPad mini will not only be a hit with the consumers, but it will be the device that will really transform the mobility in the Enterprise space.
Here is why:
- it fits in the pocket; for the sales representative is no longer something that has to be carried in a bag or in a folder. You just simply put it in you pocket and keep on doing whatever you wanted to do – using both of your hands
- you can hold it with one hand and do interesting things with the other hand, like pointing to something, gesticulating, hugging your client, pushing your competitor, or just maintaining your balance after the rough night before. In any case it will be a significant liberation from the crouching position a laptop or even the larger iPad forces you into.
- it’s light and therefore the reps will fly through the stores and take pictures of displays, place orders and make inventories without complaining of muscle cramps and call in sick.
- it’s not that expensive for an enterprise gadget. Remember that up to recently the reps used to have laptops – more expensive than an iPad mini.
- people will love it. In an interesting twist of faith it seems that iPads make people think they are not actually working and they will more than happy accept one in their job. Strike that. They will actually jump the queue to get one. For projects deploying them it will be a very easy job to get the business acceptance.
Quite recently Barclays announced that it bought 8,500 iPads to roll out in the business in order “to improve service levels”. The article ends with the statement that “the IT supplier independently confirmed that it was seeing significant interest in the take up of Apple iPads in large enterprise.”
Is this the beginning of transforming all the user experience into a mobile application? Probably not, but brace for a change of about 95% of it…