iPad a big favorite among business users: report

The Apple iPad dominates the tablet market – and not just among casual users, either. 

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Business users are helping to drive up the popularity of the Apple iPad, according to a new study from Good Technology, a research firm based in California. In a survey released this week, Good Technology estimated that 97 percent of all tablets sold for professional use in the first quarter of 2012 will be Apple iPad computers, many of them purchased by professionals in the fields of healthcare, science, and financial services. 

"Life sciences witnessed the highest rate of growth in the quarter for iPad net activations by industry, steadily increasing from less than three percent in October 2011 to nearly 14 percent in January 2012," Good Technology reps wrote in a press release. "This growth mirrors anecdotal data around proactive iPad deployments to sales forces in that industry, most notably among pharmaceutical and biotech companies."

Also increasingly popular: BYOD, or "bring your own device," activations. In this scenario, an employee purchases her own iPad or smartphone, and uses it to connect to work email servers or files. "BYOD smartphones and tablets combined with proactive, company-owned iPad deployments are driving rapid growth both the size and number of new deployments amongst our customers," Good Technology exec John Herrema said this week. 

Recommended: Apple's new iPad brings 4G, better camera, more pixels than an HDTV

The iPad is gaining prestige among business users. So hey, who's losing out? RIM, for one. Last year, RIM rolled out the BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet that was supposed to appeal to professionals in the same way BlackBerry phones once did. But the device was a disaster for RIM, and even the release of a new PlayBook OS hasn't done much to buoy the RIM slate. 

Similarly, tablets powered by Google's Android have failed to catch on among the BYOD crowd. "No one in their right mind buys a device that doesn't have the same prestige for the same amount of money when they aren't getting hardware that's better. Apple still has a big lead," Leif-Olof Wallin, research vice president at Gartner, told Computerworld this week. 

In related news, by some estimates, approximately 118.9 million tablet computers will be sold this year – a veritable tsunami.

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut. And don’t forget to sign up for the weekly BizTech newsletter.

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