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Citrix survey: 80% of its business users plan to buy Apple iPad

A survey conducted by Citrix of its existing customers indicates the overwhelming majority have plans to buy and support Apple's iPad as a business tool.

The company has reported preliminary results noting that, of the few hundred customers who have participated in its online survey:

  • 80 percent will purchase and use iPad for business
  • 84 percent will support the use of personal iPads in their organization, with half of those expecting the company to purchase the hardware for their employees
  • 87 percent say the primary use for iPads will be productivity apps
  • 90 percent will use it for business email, "closely followed by the ability to view, edit and create presentations."
  • 60 percent say they will use iPad for online meetings and to access critical business information
  • 90 percent said the largest benefit to iPad was "increased mobility to work remote, at home, or anywhere," while 74 percent answered "improved productivity and satisfaction."

In reporting the preliminary results of the survey, Citrix representative Chris Fleck wrote, "the high level of support for personal iPads seems to reinforce the notion that the iPad will be the door opener for BYOC at many companies."

Apple is already making significant progress with "Bring Your Own Computer" initiatives on the Mac, making it easy for enterprises to either officially support Apple's platform, as companies like IBM and Kraft have started doing, or a wholesale switch as Google is reportedly undertaking.

Citrix helping iPad make inroads into business

With iPad, Apple has an entirely new way to entice companies to move beyond the Microsoft Windows monoculture and begin using its products. Citrix provides a particularly "safe" step for iPad adoption, as it allows Windows administrators to make users' existing apps, data and virtual desktops available on other platforms while retaining control over centralized security.

The very low price point Apple delivered for iPad, along with its low, contract-free 3G mobile option, also makes the device very attractive to businesses that would otherwise need to support full sized laptops or have to consider very limited handheld PDAs; expensive, heavy and poorly constructed Tablet PCs; or attempt to support alternative tablets that are primarily web-based.

Recent comments by an AT&T executive indicate that its customers, and even its internal operations managers, are seeing applications for iPad to replace employee-assigned notebooks. Other new applications are also emerging for Apple's handheld tablet using custom apps, including on the spot lease returns and credit applications performed by Mercedes-Benz dealerships.

Citrix's remote desktop technology

Citrix originally got started in the early 90s selling a Unix-like, remote multiuser environment for OS/2. It then created a similar product for Windows NT 3.51 called WinView, which allowed DOS and Windows applications to be used remotely on any platform, making up for NT's lack of multiuser capabilities.

Microsoft refused to provide Citrix the access it needed to create a similar product for Windows NT 4, and instead forced Citrix to license its technology to it so that Microsoft could deliver its own remote multiuser product called Terminal Server (later renamed Remote Desktop). Citrix was contractually prevented from competing against Microsoft's bundled product, but was allowed to sell an add-on package.

Citrix's thin client technology is similar to the Unix X Window X11 protocol in that it delivers an entire remote desktop environment (actually executing on a centralized, remote server). VNC (used by Apple Remote Desktop and iChat Screen Sharing) is somewhat similar, but only delivers a graphical representation of the full screen of a remote system rather than high level information about actual windows, making it less efficient on slower networks.

Citrix provides a viewer client app for a variety of platforms including Mac OS X and the iPhone OS. Using the free Citrix Receiver app, users on the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad can login and access their existing apps, data and virtual desktops.