So, the "new" iPad has gone on sale and appears to have excited the ‘fanbois' in the usual manner, but what about the enterprise audience?
But let's get something out of the way-this is the third iPad iteration to hit the streets, so let's just be bold here and call it the iPad 3 so we know which one we are talking about.
Well, the enterprise question goes a back a little into the recent history of Apple and the late Steve Jobs. As Apple moved further towards the consumer market with the likes of the iPod and the iPhone, less and less attention was focussed on the professional market, that is people who were using Apple kit in industrial, not just commercial, settings.
The Apple Xserve line of rack mount servers were capable bits of kit but never seemed to get the development that they deserved. This may have been a commercial decision due to declining revenues as demand fell, but the argument from many was that the reason demand fell was because of lack of development. Either way, enterprise rejection of Apple products seemed to set Jobs against enterprise as a focus in general. In November of 2010, Xserve was confirmed as being discontinued as a product line to be replaced by the Mac Pro, a desktop machine which itself is criticised for a lack of development.
The attitude of ignoring enterprise seemed firmly set in Apple when the iPad was first released as there were few nods in its original design or operating system (OS) that would lend it to easy integration with enterprise IT systems.
Though the iPad now enjoys many of the features thought to be a minimum standard for enterprise, many of these were later additions to iOS. Apple provides a good outline of these features here.
So with what can only be described as a grudging attitude to enterprise readiness in iPad development, where does the iPad 3 sit?
Well, full encryption, VPN implementations and over the air kill options are certainly useful, there is still some way to go in terms of fleet management. Apple offers its own Mobile Device Management (MDM) system, but unlike most of its competitors, it requires a special security certificate to work. The process for acquiring and implementing these certificates was deeply criticised in the past which led to Apple refining and improving the process late last year, perhaps in anticipation of the iPad 3 launch.
There are also a number of third party options out there, but again there have been criticisms that these are not as fully featured as more mainstream products, which one could take to mean those that manage Windows devices, mobile or otherwise.
There is of course a way around all of this, and that is to simply use it as an access device through a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). Citrix and VMware both offer solutions whereby a virtual desktop of almost any OS can be accessed on an iPad. In fact, Citrix does a rather impressive demonstration whereby the battery is pulled from a laptop running Windows 7, only for the desktop to reappear moments later on an iPad, fully intact.
However, for those who have not yet implemented a VDI or similar, there is something of a conundrum. While the new A5X processor was not the quad-core that many had hoped for, it is still a significant performance boost over the previous iPad. The graphics power has also increased significantly, which, in conjunction with the new Retina display, has many data and business analysts salivating at the possibilities for displaying complex data. The battery life has also had a boost, as it now uses a laptop level battery, offering in the region of 1200mAh.
Forrestor's Ted Schadler was one analyst who said that such features would certainly make the device more attractive in enterprise where ever more resource hungry applications were in use.
Overall then, the iPad 3 is probably the best iPad iteration to have in enterprise, combining as it does the power boost and the extra battery life, but while concerns remain around management and security, whether well founded or not, it may remain the grudging addition that its predecessors were to the enterprise fleet of devices.
With Android making strides in terms of hardware combinations and OS development, the price and complexity of deployment and management for the iPad may not make mass enterprise adoption any greater a prospect for the iPad 3 than was seen for its predecessors.