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Apple faces hurdles as it positions iPad Pro for business use

Despite marketing a larger and more powerful iPad for business use, analysts believe that Apple will face resistance from business leaders. Many companies are reluctant to change software vendors for Apple hardware that they consider expensive and that lacks customized business applications.

Having begun to saturate the personal device market, selling tablets to corporate buyers makes sense for Apple, particularly amid global iPad sales that have fallen for two quarters. Apple’s ‘enterprise market’ represents 10 percent of the company’s $183 billion annual revenue.

According to Keith Bachman, a senior analyst at BMO Capital Markets: “The most formidable opposition to adoption is price … The iPad Pro has a lot of utility and technology that Apple brought to bear but unfortunately the price never goes away as a challenge.”

The iPad Pro starts at $799 but can cost over $1,000 if buyers also wish to have a keyboard and a stylus. This is more expensive than Apple’s existing tablets, as well as being pricier than the Macbook Air laptop. An Ipad Pro is also more costly than similar offerings from Microsoft Corp and other PC makers such as Lenovo.

Microsoft’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3 is also targeting the business market and is probably the Apple Ipad Pro’s biggest competitor. Like the new Ipad, the Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but unlike Apple’s device there is no extra charge for a keyboard and stylus.

In order to tackle resistance to its software, Apple has partnered with IBM and Cisco. They aim to create more enterprise-friendly software to run on the Apple operating system (iOS), ranging from banking applications to healthcare. It remains, however, that companies’ reliance on and familiarity with specialized software is a second major reason for their refusal to switch to Mac devices.

General Electric has an internal group dedicated to developing applications that can run on Apple’s mobile devices and yet only 10,000 of its 170,000 office workers who use computers on a regular basis use a Mac.

It is true that IBM and Apple are also developing a number of iOS applications for enterprise clients, but, according to J. P. Gownder, a Forrester principal analyst, it continues to be impossible to run an entire suite of business-critical applications through Apple.

It would appear that unless Apple is able to make significant headway in dealing with these two obstacles to adoption, the firm will face a challenging time marketing its device to business users.