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Small Businesses Falling Hard For Apple iPad

Nathan Eddy is a contributor to eWeek and TechWeekEurope, covering cloud and BYOD

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Usage of the Apple iPad is apparently exploding among small businesses, according to a new survey

As the industry braces for the arrival of Apple’s new iPad 3, a survey has revealed that the tablet device is increasingly popular among small businesses.

So said a national study of small and midsize business (SMB) owners, which revealed how critical the iPad and other mobile devices have become to this hardworking market segment.

SMB Uptake

The Business Journals survey shows that iPad use has nearly quadrupled among SMBs over the past year, growing from 9 percent in 2010 to 34 percent in 2011, indicating that the iPad is the fastest-growing technology among SMBs.

In addition, since the iPad’s launch in April 2010, familiarity with the product has reached incredibly high levels in its less than two-year life span, with 75 percent of SMB owners reporting now being “very or somewhat familiar” with the device, according to the Business Journals study.

Godfrey Phillips, vice president of research at The Business Journals, said that the growth of the iPad is part of a new phenomenon overtaking the SMB market. “Our research has shown that for SMB owners, productivity and efficiency, which used to be the central benefits of technology, are now declining in importance compared to accessibility,” he explained. “Now, it’s crucial that business owners have access to their business information and data, anytime and anywhere. The iPad, as well as smartphones and cloud computing, are all part of this new trend and are experiencing significant growth as a result of that need.”

Similarly, the “2012 AT&T Small Business Technology Poll” shows that small businesses continue to ratchet up their use of emerging wireless solutions, including tablet computers, 4G devices and GPS navigation mobile apps. Despite being a relatively new technology, approximately two-thirds (67 percent) of small businesses surveyed indicate that they use tablet computers, up from 57 percent a year ago, according to the recent AT&T study.

Tech Savvy

The Business Journals study shows that iPad users in the SMB community – 34 percent – are tech-savvy and financially successful.

In addition to being highly educated (72 percent have a college education), this segment’s annual household income averages $176,000 (£111,831). Their companies are also well-established, having existed for an average of 28 years and averaging $9.2 million (£5.8m) in annual sales.

The full Business Journals study will be available 31 March.

The research findings were based on a survey of a nationally representative sample of over 1,400 business owners, CEOs and presidents of companies with five to 499 employees.

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