iPhone Infiltrates the Enterprise, iPad to Follow?

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Print this article Print

WiFi problems marred the release of Apple's iPad tablet computer for some users when the device was first released. But for IT solution providers the problems showcased an opportunity. Solution providers who can help high-value users fix their connectivity problems will not only gain knowledge of the devices that are sure to eventually infiltrate the enterprise, but they will also impress those users with their Apple expertise.

"Remember that original, very early release of the iPhone where corporate America said there's no way that this is going to become a piece of our infrastructure? Then fast forward a year later and people were starting to find ways to bring them in and fast forward yet another year after that and all of a sudden now you have companies literally issuing iPhones or obviously opening up corporate conduits to it."

In fact, Rubin says that the innovative features of the iPad, along with the previous experience gained from the iPhone may make for an even faster and more overwhelming acceptance of the tablet device.

"Companies are going to very quickly start saying, 'I can use this thing as a productive business tool,’" he says.

Nevertheless, both Oh and Rubin agree that the acceptance curve is still at least three to six months from swooping upward. This is a good thing for the channel, which can start preparing now rather than being blindsided by the iPad's popularity like some were with the iPhone.

This starts by playing with these devices and gaining an understanding of the network infrastructure needs to make it work seamlessly in customer environments. Which is why it may be worthwhile to take a look into the connectivity problems now, even if they seem irrelevant to many of your customers.

"In the meantime it's a bit of an opportunity for channel players , more from the standpoint of this to be kind of a pilot and to instigate pilot projects and make sure that the iPad works well and to sort of help people do that. Then in the long term they can become more of a reliable partner."

According to Oh, partners would do well to learn not just from the history of the iPhone, but RIM's BlackBerry devices as well.

"I think a smart channel partner can look at history to sort of take their cues for how to plan for these devices. I mean if you look at the BlackBerry, that was widely regarded as a fringe device," Oh says.

"When mobile devices weren't prevalent for doing things like e-mail messaging, channel providers had a great opportunity, actually to go in and sell not only the BlackBerry device, but also the enterprise server and so on. I think that ended up being a tremendous outsourcing opportunity for a lot of channel providers and they made a lot of money on it because it was something that internal it was not interested in learning."

And unlike with the BlackBerry, Oh says that learning about the iPad is as simple as acquiring a device and a Microsoft Exchange account and learning how it integrates with Exchange, learning the limitations of the device and how it works in the networked environment.

Rubin also believes that now is also the time for channel partners to ready customer networking environments for the added burden that these devices may place on the infrastructure.

"Given all of these new devices and all of these things people are doing on the network, there is a lot of room for that sales pitch through the channel to the end user," Rubin says.