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The next big enterprise business tool: the iPad? Share your thoughts

OK, OK, enough with calling Apple’s new tablet computer the “iTampon.” The name “iPad” is worth a giggle, maybe, but one of the top-trending topics on Twitter? Please. Let’s put our adult hats on and move forward in our discussions of the iPad, namely: Does this device have a future as an enterprise business tool?

It could go either way. Naysayers point to the iPad’s inability to run simultaneous apps (a big whiff, in my book), but others say it will play a big role in the enterprise and sooner than you might think — for example, this piece in The New York Times:

“The iPad is clearly one of those universal technologies that will be as useful in the home as in the office. Much like the iPhone, people will want it for work simply because it will be useful for getting work completed. Like any Apple product, it’s easy to use. It’s lightweight. And it’s mobile. Plus, this baby is as sleek as it gets.

“According to Forrester Research, the iPad will be particularly well suited to the high-end mobile office worker. These people will pay for the tablet themselves. They will primarily use it for messaging and collaboration and to access email, calendars and productivity applications.”

It’s really consumers who fell into a full-tilt swoon when they heard the iPad price point of $499 (and up, depending on your Internet coverage). And it’s consumers who will purchase the iPad for their own use — and quickly realize its benefits as an enterprise business tool and efficiency booster, if those benefits do indeed exist — that will shuttle this new tablet into the enterprise.

So, don’t be tempted to tinker with your existing hardware budget based on the iPad’s promise, at least not yet. A lot of CIOs have held off on hardware replacements since the economy took a nosedive, and once some of those dollars return to IT budgets, you can bet they’ll be looking to upgrade. But most IT shops still run on PCs and Windows, and — especially with the positive buzz around Windows 7 (as opposed to Vista grumbles) — I don’t see that changing.

If there’s a can’t-miss enterprise use for this baby, your users will let you know. If you decide to purchase an iPad for your personal use, explore its apps and interface with an eye to business efficiency.

I know we’ve all probably blogged and Tweeted the iPad to death already for the past few days, but I’d really like to hear whether you foresee the iPad being successful as an enterprise business tool, and how you see it entering that sphere.

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