Apple’s (news, site) shiny new iPad, which went on sale over the weekend, already has the making of a hit product. Apple said that it sold 300,000 units on Saturday. Some analysts figure Apple has sold as many as 600,000 units thus far. In contrast, Apple sold 270,000 iPhones during that device's initial launch.
One big question remains: How will the iPad play in the business market, especially as a content management and collaboration tool?
Will the iPad Get Down to Business Collaboration?
The majority of those iPads sold have gone to consumers, judging from those who camped out in front of Apple’s retail outlets and what's popular in the App Store. And look at what’s on the shelves of the iPad in the App Store and you’ll find the vast majority of apps are aimed dead center at the consumer market.
Has Apple really missed the point of using the iPad for business? In the first round, it seems so. The device lacks a camera, multi-tasking ability and is unable to playback Flash. Some people will find the lack of a real keyboard a drawback too.
In addition, IT managers are likely to be put off by the iPad's lack of security features and the difficulty of remotely managing the devices once users get their hands on them.
Devs Are Still More Interested in Smartphones
Accelerator, which introduced last Monday Titanium Tablet SDK with native support for the iPad, says the lack of a camera and multi-tasking has tempered the enthusiasm of its developers for the iPad.
In a survey conducted last month, the company says 80% of its developers are interested developing for the iPad. That's down from 90% in January. Accelerator says once devs found out essential abilities such as multi-tasking were missing, they started to scale back their plans.
Still, when asked about overall interest in iPad as a development platform, 53% responded that they were “very interested.” These developers said eBooks, entertainment/media applications, business applications, medical applications and education applications were first on their drawing boards.
Developers with over 1,000 employees cited having an iPhone, Android and/or Blackberry app as “critical,” while only 36% said they were "very interested" in the iPad. On the other end, 54% of developers with 10 or fewer employees said they were "very interested," as small companies look to claim a first-mover advantage in the App Store.
A Trickle of Business Apps
In the plus column, the iPad works with Microsoft Exchange Server 2003 and 2007 out of the box. That means you can get push email, calendar events and contacts over the air, among other benefits. The iPad also connects to IMAP mail servers, CalDAV-compliant calendar servers such as iCal Server and Oracle Beehive, and LDAP servers from either the Mail or Contacts app on the iPad.
Apple has introduced its own must-have business apps: Pages, for word processing, Numbers, for crunching stuff and Keynote, for presentations.
Apple also is reportedly working on direct network printing and local file server access -- both features would make the iPad more business ready.
Meanwhile, search the top 100 lists in the App Store and you won’t find many CMS or collaboration tools in the paid category and only a couple in the free category.
Cisco’s WebEx for iPad (news, site) comes in at 56 on the list. Its key features include the ability start/schedule/join WebEx meetings, view shared content, chat with attendees, hand off meetings to your desktop, among others. Citrix Systems’ (news, site) Web meeting app, GoToMeeting, currently sits in slot 95.
We also know that Box.net has released a version of its iPhone mobile application for the iPad. The new app, which is free from the App Store, stays true to the original Box.net idea of a user-centric content management system in the cloud by giving users much of the document sharing functionality of the company’s full CMS.
IBM (news, site) said back in February that it will eventually release Lotus Sametime instant messaging and Lotus Quickr team collaboration suite. When that will be, the company won’t say and may not even know itself.
"IBM's expanded support for the iPhone will also make its social and collaboration software available on the newly debuted iPad,” IBM announced at Lotusphere. “This expansion on Apple devices supports IBM's strategy to extend its software footprint across all types of business and consumer devices, increasing its usefulness and appeal to companies."
The biggest obstacle to the iPad's success in business is probably it's lack of multi-tasking. Rumor is that that may be taken care of in a future upgrade. In the interim, devs are focused more on building apps for iPhone and Android smartphones.