Slowly and steadily, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) has been making its iDevices more enterprise- and business-friendly. The latest round of improvements incorporate the enhanced business features of iOS 7 along with the iPhone 5s' 64-bit A7 processor and Touch ID fingerprint scanner. Because these advances have only been featured in the iPhone family thus far, it's looking like tomorrow's iPad event will deliver at least one 64-bit iPad version with similar capabilities.
Some serious silicon
As 64-bit mobile devices, which only support 64-bit applications, begin to replace their 32-bit counterparts in the coming years, it's in an enterprise's best interest to adopt 64-bit, because it significantly lowers the longer-term risk of technological obsolescence. In other words, any investments made into 64-bit mobile hardware and software development would remain relevant for a very, very long time.
The icing on the cake
Because Apple's Touch ID fingerprint scanning technology is such a natural fit, Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank expects that the upcoming iPad will also feature it. With Touch ID, an enterprise could easily adopt a two-step authentication procedure for employees trying to access sensitive information. Naturally, this added security boost would likely resonate well in the enterprise world, and could even give Apple a competitive advantage.
Considering the iPad family already has Bluetooth 4.0, it's all but certain tomorrow's iPads will also feature it -- along with what's known as iBeacon, a micro-location technology perfect for indoor applications. With the aid of "beacons" like these, an iOS 7 device with Bluetooth 4.0 could have specific location services enabled when in close proximity to a corresponding beacon.
In an enterprise setting equipped with iBeacons, there would no longer be a need to select the closest printer nearby, nor would you have to spend time connecting to a conference room's peripherals, even if it was your first time in that room. And that's just scratching the surface.
The number of employees bringing their own devices to work is expected to experience explosive growth in the coming years. According to MarketsandMarkets, the "bring your own device" segment is expected to grow by more than 15% a year, becoming a $181 billion industry by 2017. With this kind of explosive growth, I wouldn't be surprised if Apple put a greater emphasis on the enterprise segment in the years ahead.
Assuming Apple offers at least one 64-bit iPad version tomorrow, there's a good chance enterprises will take notice. Investors should view this as a positive development, because it would signal that the company is working to grow its iDevice addressable market in a big way.
Is there more in store for the iPad?
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