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Nearly three quarters of U.S. small and midsize businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees have plans to purchase tablets over the next 12 months, with the Apple iPad being the most considered tablet among those firms planning an upcoming purchase, according to IT research firm The NPD Group s third quarter SMB Technology Monitor.

Among the SMBs surveyed, 73 percent said they plan to purchase tablets over the next 12 months, up from 68 percent in the NPD Group s second quarter survey. An overwhelming number, 90 percent, of all firms anticipate spending the same amount or more on tablets over the next 12 months. The average investment an SMB will spend on tablets is projected to exceed $21,000 over the next 12 months, but depending on company size, the intent and amount spent changes drastically, the report indicated.

Among the larger firms (501 999 employees), 89 percent plan to purchase new tablets, which is up 8 percent from the second quarter of 2011, and 95 percent are planning to increase or maintain their spending levels. On average, the larger firms plan to spend nearly $39,000 on tablet hardware, according to the report.

Smaller businesses, while also recognizing the importance of the tablet market, don t plan on purchasing or investing as much as the larger firms. Over the next 12 months, 54 percent of firms with fewer than 50 employees plan on new tablet purchases with 89 percent expecting to increase or maintain spending. That investment, however, is a mere fraction of what the larger firms plan to spend. On average, businesses with fewer than 50 employees plan to spend less than $2,000 on new tablets in the next 12 months.

Businesses of all sizes appear to be determined to capitalize on the tablet phenomenon, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD. The iPad, just as it is in the consumer market, is synonymous for tablet in the business market, leaving Apple poised to take advantage of the increased spending intentions of these SMBs. NPD s research shows that iPad purchase preference is higher among larger firms than smaller ones, which is an important indicator that Apple is gaining traction far outside its typical consumer space.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Apple iPad Tablet of Choice for Small Businesses: NPD