With so many tablets on the horizon -- think several dozen -- it's a bit premature to anoint Apple's iPad as the go-to device. Nevertheless, market research firm Gartner is encouraging CEOs to take the iPad seriously as a business tool.
"It is usually not the role of the CEO to get directly involved in specific technology device decisions, but Apple's iPad is an exception," said Stephen Prentice, Gartner Fellow and vice president. "It is more than just the latest consumer gadget; and CEOs and business leaders should initiate a dialogue with their CIOs about if they have not already done so."
According to Gartner, tablet sales will reach 19.5 million units by the end of 2010, most of which will belong to the iPad. In 2011, that number will jump to 54.8 million, and surpass 208 million in 2014.
"Individuals are willing to buy these devices themselves, so enterprises must be ready to support them," said Mr. Prentice. "While some IT departments will say they are a 'Windows shop,' and Apple does not support the enterprise. Organizations need to recognize that there are soft benefits in a devices of this type in the quest to improve recruitment and retention. Technology is not always about productivity."
Gartner called the iPad an iconic device that's currently redefining the market, and advises CEOs to act sooner rather than later.
"While there are no certainties, the iPad looks to become a market-disrupting device, like the iPod before it," Prentice says.
Read Gartner's full rundown here .