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Most small & medium businesses plan to buy Apple iPads in next 12 months

A new survey of small- and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. found that 73 percent plan to buy tens of thousands of dollars worth of tablets in the next 12 months, and most of those purchases will be Apple's iPad.

The NPD Group polled American businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees about their intent to buy tablets over the next year, and found nearly three quarters intend to bring touchscreen tablets into the workplace. Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD, said businesses are "determined" to embrace tablets, and Apple's iPad remains the top choice in the enterprise.

"The iPad, just as it is in the consumer market, is synonymous for 'Tablet' in the business market, leaving Apple poised to take advantage of the increased spending intentions of these SMBs (small and medium businesses)," Baker said. "NPD's research shows that iPad purchase preference is higher among larger firms than smaller ones, which is an important indicator that Apple is gaining traction far outside its typical consumer space."

Tablet buying intentions are highest among larger companies with between 501 and 999 employees, where 89 percent of businesses will buy a tablet, and spend an average of $38,749. The average small- and medium-sized business is expected to spend more than $21,000 on tablets in the next year.

The survey also shows that an overwhelming majority — 90 percent — of firms polled plan to maintain or increase their spending on tablets over the next year.

The latest NPD data comes from its quarterly SMB Technology Monitor survey. The questions were fielded in September of 2011, and firms with fewer than 1,000 employees answered questions about purchase intentions for tablets, PCs, mobile phones, networking and more.

Apple officials have repeatedly boasted about the success the iPad has seen in the enterprise over a short time. In each of the company's quarterly earnings conference calls, executives have revealed adoption rates among Fortune 500 companies, and in October it was said that 90 percent of the Fortune 500 were deploying or testing the iPad, just 18 months since it first debuted.

Another survey revealed by Good Technology in October found that the iPad represented nearly all of enterprise tablet adoptions. The iPad represented 96 percent of tablet activations tracked by the company, while Android represented just 4 percent of activations in the third quarter of 2011.