IT pros ready to buy Apple tablet, if the price is right

Four out of 10 Network World readers are ready to buy Apple’s rumored tablet computer, according to our informal Web poll. The tablet is widely expected to be announced Wednesday, which will solve one issue at least: What to call it.

More than 600 readers responded to our online poll, which is completely unscientific but is intended to gauge the interest of network IT professionals in Apple’s newest creation, variously called MacTablet, iSlate, iTablet and iTab, among other names. The rumor consensus seems to be that it will have a 10- or 12-inch multitouch screen, no keyboard, built-in cellular (both Verizon and AT&T are reportedly talking with Apple about offering it) and 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity, a powerful e-reader application and online services options.

While interest is high among Network World readers, the Apple device is clearly seen as a consumer product: Close to 70 percent of respondents said the device either would never or probably not be deployed as an enterprise mobile platform.

You can find the poll questions and the results online here.  

Asked “How likely are you to buy an Apple ‘iSlate’ tablet?” as of this Monday morning, 41 percent said “like totally.” Another 21 percent said they’re leaning toward buying it. Only 15 percent said “no way” or “probably not.”

Twenty-three percent are open to buying the Apple tablet: “maybe, it depends.”

One issue that might sway people is price. Our second question is: “How much would you be willing to pay for an Apple ‘iSlate?’” More than half (52 percent) said $500 to $699, which means the price of a high-end netbook or a budget windows PC. Apple prides itself in not being a discount retailer.

Just over a third (36 percent) of respondents are willing to pay $700 to $999, bringing the tablet into the price range of the 13-inch MacBook notebook. Just 13 percent are enamored enough with Apple, or the concept, to be willing to pay $1,000 or more.

The response to our last question: “How likely is it that your company/organization will deploy Apple’s ‘iSlate?’” reveals Apple’s traditional strength as a consumer brand, and its relative weakness in the enterprise. One quarter of respondents said “Never in a million years.” The same percentage said “somewhat likely, if a business case can be made for it.” Another 42 percent said “probably not.” Only a fraction, 8 percent, are so eager to deploy they “wanna be a beta test site.”

Interestingly, only one in four completely write off the Apple tablet as an enterprise device. A similar change in attitude can be seen with Apple’s wildly successful iPhone. As Apple has provided the basic security features and support for Microsoft Exchange  needed or required by enterprise IT departments, adoption of the smartphone has soared.

The enterprise enthusiasm is all the more striking since Apple completely lacks, and seems to have no interest in providing, the complex security and management infrastructures that have been the hallmark of the two leading mobile platforms for the enterprise market: Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile.

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