iPad competitors face rocky market, says Forrester

Enterprise adoption could be a long process, says analyst Schadler

While the iPad was a runaway hit for consumers in 2010, Forrester analyst Ted Schadler says its competitors should temper expectations if they expect rapid adoption in the enterprise market.

Also read: 2011 tech priorities: Finding a place for iPads

The reason that other tablets face an uphill climb with enterprise customers, he says, is because their manufacturers will be marketing and selling directly to the enterprises themselves and not to consumers. One of the reasons that the iPad has taken off so quickly at offices, Schadler says, is because many consumers were buying them and taking them into work with them. This forced IT departments to adapt on the fly and figure out the best ways to support iPads on corporate networks.

But because upcoming tablets from Research in Motion, Cisco and HP will be sold directly to companies, IT departments will take longer than consumers when deciding whether to adopt a particular brand of tablet computer.

"In a world of smartphone and tablet consumerization where employees bring personal devices to work, the leading... business tablets are being sold through the enterprise door," writes Schadler. "This will slow down adoption as IT buyers find the budget and evaluate the alternatives."

Schadler also says it will take a while for new tablets to garner the name recognition of the iPad, which he says benefits from having a year's head start and which already has plenty of applications and accessories developed for it. He also says tablet manufacturers will have to work hard to catch up to the wide variety of apps available, especially since many of the "tablets being announced at this week's CES are competing with iPad 1.0 even as Apple is preparing iPad 2.0."

Research released last year from ChangeWave found many enterprises are considering taking the tablet plunge. Among business IT buyers surveyed, 7% say their company currently deploys tablets, and 14% say their company will buy tablets in the first quarter of 2011. The iPad still dominates corporate purchasing plans, but ChangeWave also found growing interest in tablets from Dell and Research in Motion, whose business-oriented PlayBook tablet is due to begin shipping this quarter.

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