It's true: iPads are starting to replace business PCs

Business interest in the iPad is increasing, as Android slips and Dell, HP, and RIM are irrelevant

Apple continues to clobber its competition in the tablet market, and the new iPad is only going to make matters worse for rivals like Samsung. But it's not just other tablet makers that are taking significant hits delivered by the iPad. A new survey of business users by ChangeWave Research found that nearly one-third of the companies expecting to buy tablets in the next few months are using them as replacements for PCs for at least some users.

What's more, the penetration of tablets into the enterprise, a major piece of what's being called the consumerization of IT, is speeding up. Twenty-two percent of the businesses surveyed expect to buy a tablet soon, and the only reason that number isn't three or four points higher is that Apple didn't announce the third-generation iPad until a month after the survey was conducted, says Paul Carton, ChangeWave's director of research.

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The survey, conducted last month, is yet another confirmation that no company comes close to matching the iPad in the enterprise. Indeed, the iPad wannabes are barely on the radar. While 84 percent of the companies that plan to buy a tablet in the next quarter said they will go with Apple's iPad, up from 77 percent in November, just 8 percent said they will buy one from the No. 2 brand, Samsung, compared to 10 percent in the previous survey.

But Samsung, a highly diversified company, can better withstand a poor showing in the tablet market than can Hewlett-Packard and Dell. "Those companies need to win a toehold in tablets as PCs become less important, and they're not doing it," Carton says. "We're very bearish on them."

Dell has so little traction (3 percent) that it actually trails HP (at 4 percent), even though HP is no longer in the tablet market. Also, zombielike RIM, which once dominated the business smartphone market with the BlackBerry, lost a couple of points and now holds a tiny 3 percent piece of the tablet market with its poorly reviewed BlackBerry PlayBook.

Android tablets are doing better as a consumer contender
Although Apple owns the tablet market in business, that's not at all the case on the consumer side. IDC, in a study released this week, found that in the last quarter of 2011, Apple's iPad led in terms of shipments with a share of 54.7 percent, almost exactly 10 points higher than that of tablets running on Google's Android OS -- a winning but not overwhelming hand. It's important to keep in mind that IDC reports units shipped, not units sold. Apple reports units sold to people, whereas most of its competitors report only how many they sent to stores, not how many ended up with buyers. Thus, IDC's Android figures are inflated in terms of actual user adoption.

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