Apple’s Enterprise Dreams Rest on the Keyboard

by Jeff Wiener on August 12, 2014

It’s clear that next technological frontier for Apple is the enterprise market, as competent and secure mobile business solutions have been in short supply of late, particularly given that most people just bring their favourite consumer devices like the iPad or iPhone to work anyways. But the problem for Apple is that the business world does not yet view the company as enterprise savvy, and thus many industries are still looking elsewhere to fill their mobile computing needs.

However, in an effort to establish some much needed enterprise credibility Apple recently signed a landmark partnership with once-hated rival IBM, giving Apple IBM’s much needed expertise in how to attract (and retain) business clients and giving IBM Apple’s expertise at how to make better apps, thus allowing IBM to attract more people to its Big Data analytics software.

But no matter how much credibility IBM is able to affords Apple or how much strategic advice IBM offers to Apple about how to attract enterprise clients, there is one extant factor that will continue to stand in the way of the Cupertino Company’s dominance in the business market, the lack of a physical keyboard attachment for its popular iPad tablet.

Now to be fair there are many third-party keyboard options for the iPad, and while some are decent the fact remains that with so much choice and so many poor options—offering poor interface, clunky responsiveness, or cramped keys on the keyboard—many consumers don’t know what keyboard will serve their needs, and it’s the sort of indecisiveness that the enterprise market simply wants no part of.

What businesses want when choosing technology is relatively straightforward: they want reliability, affordability, and productivity. If companies have to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars every time a new iPad comes out because nothing is backwards compatible, well they’re going to avoid the iPad at all costs. Further, if the iPad isn’t as conducive to productivity as its competitors, well companies are going to look elsewhere, particularly if the alternatives are functional and ‘cool’ enough to elicit actual employee adoption.

As one who loves his iPad I have to say that despite what Apple’s advertising may tell you, it’s nothing but a headache to actually attempt to produce something with the tablet keyboard, whether its emails, blog posts, or something more substantial. Lets just be honest about it, when it comes to actual typing, Apple’s touchscreen keyboard is just plain terrible.

In fact, while Apple has seen some initial adoption in education and medicine, many of those clients are now searching for other options, one’s that are both more affordable and more functional, and ones that don’t come with that consumer ‘fun’ feel of an Apple product.

Its here that the need for an Apple-branded iPad specific keyboard is absolutely essential, one akin to Microsoft’s Surface Pro series keyboard, in order to remove that fun-only persona of Apple’s signature tablet and offer it some laptop functionality that will once again attract the enterprise market. In fact, despite whatever sound business advice Apple might garner from IBM, I fear that without a physical keyboard attachment Apple’s enterprise dreams will continue to remain just that…dreams.

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