Apple iPad Tablet: Yes, MSPs Need to Try It

apple iPad tablet Re-read the headline. I'm not suggesting that you need to buy the Apple iPad tablet. Nor am I saying your customers will buy the iPad. But yes, managed services providers (MSPs) need to try Apple's iPad while closely monitoring the tablet market. Here's why. And yes, it involves Hardware as a Service.

First, the facts: After months of speculation, Apple officially unveiled the iPad tablet today. Here's Apple's official pitch:

Apple today introduced iPad, a revolutionary device for browsing the web, reading and sending email, enjoying photos, watching videos, listening to music, playing games, reading e-books and much more. iPad’s responsive high-resolution Multi-Touch™ display lets users physically interact with applications and content. iPad is just 0.5 inches thick and weighs just 1.5 pounds— thinner and lighter than any laptop or netbook. iPad includes 12 new innovative apps designed especially for the iPad, and will run almost all of the over 140,000 apps in the App Store. iPad will be available in late March starting at the breakthrough price of just $499.
The words sound wonderful. (They always do...) But can iPad live up to the hype?

Here's Apple CEO Steve Jobs' demo (care of CNet):

Reality Check

Frankly, I'm skeptical about the iPad. I checked in with Matt Weinberger and David Courbanou -- our two Mac-happy contributing bloggers. I heard two different perspectives.

Matt Weinberger is somewhat skeptical of iPad. He notes that most users already have desktops, notebooks, netbooks and/or smart phones. Where does the iPad fit in? And can it really emerge as a business device?

Valid questions. But you can't get answers unless you see, try and live with the iPad for a bit. Remember: 18 months ago, netbooks were relatively unknown devices. Gradually, netbooks moved from the consumer market into the business market. Were you ahead of the curve? Or did you ignore it?

David Courbanou believes the iPad could repeat the netbook trend. Courbanou notes that you can link an external keyboard to the iPad. He sees it as a potential alternative to netbooks and other mobile devices. When the iPad ships, I suspect he'll buy one. Fast.

Where MSPs Fit In

I realize Apple remains mostly a consumer company. But I keep hearing from business executives and MSPs alike who visit Apple Stores to get a better feel for sales, product positioning, customer support and other best practices.

At the same time, the managed services market increasingly talks about hardware as a service (HaaS) opportunities. Ultimately, some folks are hoping to promote technology as a service (TaaS) -- where every IP device is intelligently, proactively managed.

Do iPads fit that model today? Perhaps not. But keep an eye on Apple. Early reports suggest that a key hospital has already tested iPads running medical applications.

I don't think the iPad will live up to its hype. But the tablet niche is growing. If you serve verticals like health care and insurance, managing tablets will become a requirement...
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