Last Updated Mar 24, 2010 6:12 PM EDT
Back in January, some people like TechRepublic's Jason Hiner thought I was off-base:
While a few tech writers, such as BNET's Erik Sherman, have suggested that the Apple tablet will be aimed at businesses, I expect that it will be a consumer device aimed at aggregating various types of media content from periodicals to video to Web articles.However, businesspeople are also interested in media content -- both consuming and creating it in a variety of forms. Furthermore, Apple has been focused on business users far longer than consumers:
When you think of Apple, it's generally as a consumer electronics company. But that's a relatively recent position. For years, it was the tool of choice of designers, graphics artists, and creatives of many different stripes. Originally, and for a long time, Macs were widely used in business. Consumer electronics are all well and good, but corporations spend a whole lot of money on computers, software, and devices. Even with the iPhone's market success, Apple still hasn't wooed business buyers en masse. But there's evidence that Apple may be using a tablet as a way to break out of the consumer box, which would reopen the largest markets for it. According to one blogger with a well-connected source, Apple has been approaching hospital executives about using its new tablet in healthcare (via VentureBeat). Sure, Apple's also been talking to media companies, but maybe the parties aren't expecting to see consumers on subways toting an iSlate [iPad], or whatever it would be called. Maybe it's to make information available on a device targeting businesses. Opening up a strong corporate offering would create a new source of growth that would allow the company to remain an earnings hero for some time to come.Since the iPad announcement, certainly there has been a strong consumer pitch, but business users are also in the target market. Some of the clear niche uses for the iPad are areas that are strong among businesses. Is it really so surprising that business use would be high on customers' agendas?
According to the Zogby International survey, 52.3 percent of those polled would want to conduct work on a tablet "such as an iPad," with a likely overlapping 20 percent seeing it as a device to give business presentations. Just over 48 percent would use it to watch movies, videos, and television programs, and 35.4 percent for gaming. But really telling is that 15.5 percent weren't sure why they'd use it for and another 12.2 percent wouldn't consider getting one. Take the numbers together, it suggests that only 20 percent of those polled would use it solely as consumers. If the polled audience was representative of the country and the polling done in a sound way (and Zogby is certainly a practiced market research firm), the result suggests that Apple should strongly focus on business customers. They would also employ iPads for personal use and likely act as influencers to spread iPads to a wider consumer public.
iPad image courtesy Apple. Image editing via Erik Sherman