New figures indicate business demand for Apple iPads is almost outstripping independent consumers, with information access, mobile point of sale, and customer service all driving sales.
It’s turning around the past few years of slump for the company, with the New York Times noting nearly half of all iPads are now bought by corporations and governments, equating to service and hardware revenue of $25 billion.
That represents a rise of corporate sales by almost 40% last financial year, with renowned KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo tipping the company will further embrace the emerging market in 2017, releasing a 10.5-inch model to go directly after the corporate and education sectors.
So how are iPads being used by business and what do they deliver?
Mobile Point of Sale or mPOS is one of the fastest growing areas, with iPads high on the list of devices favored. Research and consultancy firm Grandview Research tips the general mPOS market is only set to boom further, growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 18% from 2016 to 2024.
Predominantly driving it are the retail and hospitality sectors, with a new generation of apps making it easier than ever before to download point of sale software like PayPal Here, ShopKeep and Square POS to an iPad and integrate it quickly with further software like accounting apps, and email marketing.
Meanwhile a massive hardware industry also supports the trend. PayPal Here provides card readers for quick payments, as does Square. Compatible wireless cash drawers and barcode readers are readily available, while secure tablet enclosures from companies like BossTab insure iPads against damage and theft.
One of the major benefits retailers and the hospitality sector are recognizing is the capability to take the register and information to the customer. Need to know if it’s available at another store? Grab the iPad and check. Need to order tableside? Again it’s simple. Or if retailers are looking to shorten the queue, take the mobile register with you for ordering and payments.
Stroll into your bank, café or local government office and increasingly technology is making its presence felt. Café’s offer iPad kiosks to occupy clientele over a quick coffee, banks have one on standby for customers needing to access their accounts online, while local government agencies are using them to simply spruik services or so customers can perform functions like paying dog registrations, and register for a queue.
In retail the kiosk usage also presents a further opportunity to engage clientele on site by offering an access point to log in and register loyalty details or to peruse the latest catalogue in-store.
Kick back, relax and enjoy the in-flight entertainment courtesy of an iPad. That’s been the mantra for leading airlines like Qantas for the past few years, with the international carrier first turning to iPads in 2012. Since then they’ve been rolling them out consistently, with Australian Business Traveller noting this extended beyond international flights to iPad Minis for Australian domestic routes. The devices offer in-flight entertainment including movies, TV, audio and more.
It comes as little surprise in an era when we’re all required to be switched on, tuned in and delivering work anywhere that mobile devices, particularly high-end models complete with stylus and keyboard, are finding favor with professionals keen to work with portability while on-the-go.
The iPad Pro is among the devices catering to this trend, offering all the services of a laptop with the convenience of mobility.
Sky News notes Apple has even been working with former sworn enemies to better deliver their product, while “companies are turning to Apple’s products for their tight-knit hardware and software, advanced security features and intuitive interfaces”.
Meanwhile Cloud-based tools like Microsoft Office help fuel the trend. No longer are workers restricted simply to the pre-installed operating system but can access and store information anywhere, anytime on a variety of platforms.
From tradespeople to tree trimmers and health professionals, having an iPad in-hand allows business to take their services to customers, cutting the paper trail. Jobs can be generated, tracked and completed online.
As early as 2013 Qantas Airlines replaced over 20kg of paperwork with a single iPad for pilots, utilising over 2000 iPads on Boeing and Airbus flights. It was similar for other airlines with the Wall Street Journal noting American Airlines rolled out 8000 iPads that year, while JetBlue utilized 2500.
Meanwhile, last year the New York Times stated big names like British Airways had taken the push a step further devising over 40 unique apps to service the workforce and clientele.
“…switching to tablets has eliminated reams of paper used for flight plans, passenger manifests and maintenance records. Another app allows anyone at the airline to grab an iPad and quickly rebook passengers when a flight is canceled or weather wreaks havoc on schedules,” The Times explained.
“’We can get to customers wherever they are,’ said Abigail Comber, who is in charge of the customer experience at the airline. ‘It’s technology that’s very intuitive. What the team has managed to do brilliantly is take away everything that happens on the back end.’ The carrier has so far deployed its apps across 17,000 iPads, and is looking to digitize even more of its business. “
The final word
With mobility expected, apps being quickly developed and business willingly embracing the high-spec tablet trend, iPad’s future is anything but doom and gloom. Now all that remains to be seen is whether they will deliver a further winner in the corporate and business sphere with the much-anticipated release of the rumored 10.5.