Remember all the talk earlier this year about the iPad's limited market? Well, not only has the iPad been a huge hit with consumers, but it's also making a mark in the enterprise, with companies like Wells Fargo, SAP and Mercedes-Benz throwing their support behind the Apple tablet.
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that executives at Wells Fargo are fans of the device, and the bank has ordered a "bunch" of them -- it just can't get them yet, thanks to the iPad's popularity. Wells Fargo VP Amy Johnson, who told Bloomberg that she used the iPad to demonstrate financial products at a recent conference, said she carries it with her everywhere.
Anecdotal? Sure, but it's not an isolated story. Rob Enslin, North America president of SAP, told Bloomberg that when he goes on business trips, he just brings his iPad and BlackBerry. And sales reps in 40 Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the U.S. have been using the iPad on the showroom floor; reportedly, the Daimler unit is thinking about using the tablet in all 350 of its U.S. dealerships.
It may not show a groundswell, but some organizations are clearly looking at the iPad and seeing more than a consumer-oriented device. Apple sold 3 million iPads in its first 80 days of availability and could end up selling 10 million by year-end. There have been numerous reports that a good number of business users have been among the early iPad adopters, even as many analysts pooh-poohed the device's enterprise potential.
Apple hasn't been particularly noisy about pushing the iPad out to businesses. But last month, Randall Stephenson, CEO of wireless partner AT&T, told CNBC that the device is going to be "significant product for enterprise," adding, "We're getting a strong interest from our large business customers on bringing this device into their environments."
In another Bloomberg article, Tim Markley, president of a marketing display firm, said that putting three iPads in his warehouse cut down employee travel time by 30 percent. And Arhaus Furniture expects to save $100,000 in yearly paper costs by handing out 50 iPads to its delivery truck drivers.
Cutting down on paper costs could be a big driver for the tablet market, which is about to get significantly more crowded as Dell, HP and LG prepare to launch devices.
Late last month, Cisco announced that it plans to roll out an enterprise-focused tablet, Cius, by early next year. Cisco plans to ignore the consumer market with its tablet, and says it won't compete with the iPad. Unfortunately for Cisco, it will be.