Apple will continue to dominate the enterprise tablet market following the launch of new iPad Air and Mini iOS 7 devices on Tuesday (US time), according to analysts.
“With these new iPads, we will continue to see Apple’s dominance in the tablet ecosystem, particularly for directors, CEOs, management teams, etc," said Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy.
"They [senior executives] will continue to prefer the Apple devices over their competitors; even over the Microsoft Surface 2 devices that have been released recently,” Sheedy said.
“There are some IT shops looking at the Microsoft devices and thinking ‘these might be a nice IT-friendly device’. However, the reality is when looking at these new tablets, the lightweight iPad Air, you are going to see senior people in the organisation continue to bring these into businesses and ask or demand for them to be supported by the IT department.
“I don’t see shift to Microsoft Surface replacing the iPad, particularly at the executive level.”
The new iPad Air and iPad Mini use a 64-bit A7 processor and have a motion co-processor, making them more powerful. The iPad Air is also about 20 per cent thinner and 28 per cent lighter than the iPad 4, with a 9.7-inch screen. The iPad Air will be available for purchase in Australia on 1 November, with the iPad Mini to release not long after.
Telsyte analyst Rodney Gedda believes the new devices are not a “revolutionary upgrade”, but iOS 7 is giving the company a significant competitive advantage in the market when it comes to enterprises.
“The real differentiator will be iOS 7 and the software - how well they can secure it, what sort of productivity apps they have on it, how they can develop applications for it, and so on,” he said.
“iPad is the number one tablet for business in Australia, and that looks set to continue.”
Apple also announced that it’s making its iWorks software free for all new MAC or iOS devices. Sheedy said he doesn’t see iWorks competing much with Microsoft’s productivity suite.
“The dominant productivity suite in Australia is Microsoft Office. The growing productivity suite is Google. iWork has very little if any presence within the enterprise space. I don’t see this announcement changing that significantly,” he said.
“But for the sourcing person in IT, if you look at it from their perspective, it is good because they have a point of leverage now that they can use against Microsoft. They can threaten to take the whole organisation across to Macs and iWork when they come to their Microsoft renewal. They can point to the fact that they are doing BYOD and whatever per cent of their staff are using Macs.
“So it may drive savings for IT shops in terms of their license spending with Microsoft, but I don’t think it will drive adoption of iWork into the productivity suite.”
Gedda believes iWorks will gradually have more of a presence within enterprises, being predominantly used for everyday work functions such as creating presentations or spreadsheets.
“I think as more people get use to using the Apple ecosystem then they will certainly give iWork a go.”
However, he said users may run into issues when it comes to its document compatibility, which could be a deal breaker for some.
“Workers are probably going to have to re-create a lot of their stuff in iWorks. It’s always good to have something you don’t have to pay for, but enterprises need to warrant the cost of free compared to the productivity they get out of it, as well as manageability and compatibility with legacy systems, etc.”
Apple’s iOS 7 devices may dominate with enterprises, but Apple has still yet to reach the mass consumer markets, Sheedy and Gedda said.
“As the premium product leader in this space, they are not getting down into the mass market for tablets. They haven’t done anything to expand their market share. But their strategy suits their shareholders, and they can’t be criticised for that,” said Sheedy.