Is the iPad enterprise-ready? Probably not, but I'll still buy one

The iPad will be at best no more enterprise-friendly than the iPhone, though VDI options could make it work for some shops

Before I say another word, let me first proclaim I am not an iPad hater. I am already on a list to buy one. I will be the first one on my block, in my city, maybe even my state to own one. But it is not coming with me to work, even if it does contain a version of iWork. The iPad is a great tool for mobile Web surfing (which is, let's face it, pitiful on a smartphone's small screen), a great way to show pictures, and a nice e-book reader. But it is not enterprise-ready!

At least that is what I'm told. But -- wait a minute -- has this thing been released yet? Are we saying it is impossible for Apple to add features between now and the release date (somewhere around the end of March, beginning of April)? Are we saying it isn't possible for vendors to develop more enterprise-ready apps?

[ Read Randall C. Kennedy's very reasonable approach to why a netbook trumps the iPad in "iPad, the netbook killer? I think not!" Then check out Galen Gruman's equally compelling argument "Apple's iPad will kill the iPhone -- and the mobile Web." ]

The iPad's native failings
It's very possible that some of the enterprise limitations may be hurdles that cannot be overcome until a later version of the iPad is released (as was the case with the original iPhone). Let's consider two failing points for enterprise usage for the iPad:

  • The iPad cannot multitask. The iPad simply cannot do more than one thing at a time. Again, I don't think Version 2 will have that issue, but until we see the next iteration, we can't be too sure. Personally, I thought this first version would have a camera, webcam, and more, so I'm surprised that Apple is releasing it knowing that it will endure more criticism than praise.
  • It's hard to control app delivery. Unless your business is a hodgepodge of technologies with people using whatever they want, the lack of app-installation controls through group policies or any other standard method for deploying apps just isn't going to work on the iPad. It's unclear whether Apple's iPhone Configuration Utility and its iTunes-based app-management capability will work with the iPad (Apple hasn't said), but even if they do, they're not suited for managing more than a few dozen local users.
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