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Seize the iPad now, Gartner advises CEOs

A report from media research firm Gartner Group predicts that the iPad and its 'ecosystem' are likely to disrupt existing technology, use profiles, and business models, and is advising CEOs to ensure that the Apple tablet's potential is being seriously evaluated inside their organizations

"It is not usually the role of the CEO to get directly involved in specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is an exception," Gartner Fellow and vice president Stephen Prentice said according to a report by Digitimes' Joseph Tsai. "It is more than just the latest consumer gadget; and CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about if they have not already done so."

The report notes that Gartner is forecasting worldwide media tablet sales to end-users to reach 19.5 million units in 2010, driven by sales of the iPad, and that media tablets are poised for strong growth with worldwide end user sales projected to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181% from 2010, and to surpass 208 million units in 2014.

Unless there is a self-evident case to the contrary, Gartner recommends that IT organisations should provide at least concierge-level iPad support for a limited number of key users, and prepare a budgeted plan for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011.

"Individuals are willing to buy these devices themselves, so enterprises must be ready to support them," Prentice continues, adding that: "While some IT departments will say they are a Windows shop, and Apple does not support the enterprise," organisations need to
recognise that there are "soft benefits" in a device of this type in the quest to improve recruitment and retention, and that technology is not always about productivity.

Gartner advises CEOs to ask their marketing and product development teams to present a creative briefing as soon as possible, detailing how iPads could be used by the company and its competitors, because the iPad has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business models and markets of many enterprises. "We are already seeing
announcements about competing devices from other vendors, including RIM, Samsung, HP and Dell, but the iPad is currently well ahead of the pack with the lion's share of the market," Prentice reckons.

Like the iPhone before it, the iPad is an iconic device that redefines markets, although according to Gartner analysts, the tablet is not a notebook replacement for most users, but instead a valuable companion device, being much less intrusive in face-to-face environments than conventional notebooks, and thus well-suited to sales or information-sharing environments.

"While there are no certainties, the iPad looks set to become a market-disrupting device, like the iPod before it," concludes Prentice. "Even if you think it is just a passing fad, the cost of early action is low, while the price of delay may well be extremely high."