Tapping into the Apple iPad Channel Opportunity
While there is certainly a lot of buzz these days about anything and everything to do with the Apple iPad, the number of business applications that take real advantage of the Apple tablet has been limited.
There are a few business intelligence applications that make use of the Apple iPad touch screen to deliver reports in a unique new way, but the rest of the use the cases for the Apple iPad have largely been limited to consuming email and other forms of unified communications. The folks at FileMaker, a unit of Apple, want to change thatwith the release of 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the company’s namesake database that comes with a set of customizable applications.
The new applications tackle such mundane tasks as managing contacts, projects, digital content and inventory, all of which are things that customers do each and every day. According to Ryan Rosenberg, vice president of marketing and services, the idea is to change how people interact with those applications in way that is not only more mobile, but also much more immersive.
By and large, there is a huge swath of small-to-medium (SMB) organizations that to one degree or another have invested in Apple iPads. There are also plenty of corporations that have purchased Apple iPads by the thousands. What none of them have is the time or skill needed to develop custom business applications for the Apple iPad, In short, that creates a huge opportunity for the channel.
Large corporations it turns out are particularly challenged. They have plenty of developers that are familiar with SQL constructs and all the subtle nuances of an ERP application. What they often don’t have is anybody who can feed all the information in those applications into a mobile computing application that somebody would actually want to use. Given the backend integration capabilities built in to FileMaker, the number of ways to leverage FileMaker to extend corporate applications out to the Apple iPad is almost infinite.
As a rule there is almost no money to be made selling mobile computing devices. But creating business applications for them could be huge. Better still, the learning curve associated with using tools such as FileMaker is relatively low. Rosenberg says most organizations can start producing custom business applications in a matter of days.
Rosenberg says the Apple iPad opportunity is roughly equivalent to the same phenomenon that created a wave of departmental applications on database platforms such as dBase or Lotus Notes. He expects that with the combination of FileMaker 12 and the Apple iPad will result in history basically repeating itself with the channel leading the charge to create one new departmental application after another.
Given the affinity that many business people have for the Apple iPad he’s probably right. The challenge facing many solution providers is going to be first get familiar with the touch-screen interface of the Apple iPad, and then start thinking about what the new art of the business possible really is.