Enterprise interest in the iPad explodes

A survey from ChangeWave Research indicates a coming boom in corporate IT spending on smart phones, tablets and PCs for the first quarter of 2011.

ChangeWave's vice president of research Paul Carton notes that an August 2010 ChangeWave survey detected corporate demand for Apple iPads was on the rise, and over the subsequent five months additional competing tablet devices have hit the sales channels.

The latest survey, conducted in November of 1,641 business IT buyers, has taken a closer look ahead at Q1 2011 corporate tablet demand, and also at how businesses are currently making use of the industry leader – Apple's iPad.

In terms of current usage, seven per cent of corporate respondents now say their firms provide employees with tablet devices – up a point from the August survey metric.

The iPad, with a whopping 82 per cent share of the corporate tablet market remains the overwhelmingly most popular tablet for business purposes. H-P (Slate; 11 per cent) and Dell (Streak; seven per cent) are also demonstrating some traction among corporate users – but both remain far behind Apple’s lion's share of the market.

Customer Satisfaction

Similar to what ChangeWave has determined in other Apple product areas, the iPad’s satisfaction ratings are outstanding – with 69 per cent of corporate users saying their company is "Very Satisfied" and another 28 per cent "Somewhat Satisfied" with the Apple device's performance and reliability.

Here’s how the iPad stacks up against H-P and Dell’s corporate tablet ratings:

First Quarter Explosion in Corporate Tablet Demand Anticipated

While seven per cent of business respondents said their company currently provides employees with tablet devices, ChangeWave notes that an astonishing 14 per cent of businesses report their company will be buying tablets in the first quarter of 2011 - in other words, the total number of companies making use of tablet devices is set to double in just the next three months – amounting to an explosive surge in demand going forward.

The Overwhelming Choice

Despite the flood of new Tablets hitting the market, the Apple iPad remains the overwhelming majority choice of business buyers going forward – with nearly four-in-five (78 per cent) of corporate respondents saying their company plans to purchase Apple iPads.

Although the release of Research In MOtion's Playbook isn’t expected until late-first Quarter 2011, RIM (9 per cent) is now tied with Dell (9 per cent) for second place in terms of future buying intentions – a positive outlook for the Canadian manufacturer. H-P (8 per cent) ranks in third place, just a point behind.

Corporate Usage of The iPad

To better understand how companies are currently making use of iPads, ChangeWave asked respondents which business functions they are using their iPads for.

A comparison of the November survey results with a previous ChangeWave corporate survey in August revealed significant increases over the past three months for each of the top six corporate usages of the iPad.

Such an across the board increase in usage is a good indicator of the extent to which tablets have proven valuable to current corporate users.

Below are the six most popular business functions for the iPad reported to us back in August, in comparison to the current corporate survey:

Corporate usage has risen for each of these six business functions. And while Internet Access (73 per cent; up 18-pts), Checking Email (69 per cent; up 12-pts), and Working Away From the Office (67 per cent; up 15-pts) remain the top three, we’re also seeing increased usage of the iPad for Sales Support (46 per cent; up 6-pts) and Customer Presentations (45 per cent;up 6-pts).

That said, the biggest percentage jump of all since August lies in the number of businesses who report they are using the iPad as a laptop replacement (38 per cent: up 13-pts) – a trend that has huge implications and which Carton says ChangeWave be tracking closely in future surveys.

The complete ChangeWave report is available here here for a mere $1,500.