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New iPad Pro could mean more companies using Apple for business

Apple's smartphones and tablets dominate the consumer market, but the new, smaller iPhone SE and iPad Pro could be game changers for Apple in the enterprise.

It's easy to see how Apple's new, smaller and lower-priced devices appeal to consumers, but they could also hold sway over companies that have yet to try Apple for business. In March, Apple unveiled its newest products: the 4-inch iPhone SE and the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Starting at $399, the iPhone SE is the cheapest Apple phone available, while the smaller iPad Pro starts at $599.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said the iPad Pro can replace desktop PCs, targeting the roughly 600 million PC users whose computers are at least five years old. But can Apple's new devices actually compete with PCs in the business world?

Here, Aaron Freimark, CTO and founder of GroundControl based in New York, which configures Apple devices for businesses, discusses the enterprise prospects for these new products.

With the iPhone SE, why did Apple take out the shrink ray?

Aaron Freimark: Part of it is [appealing to] first-time phone users. It's new; they don't want an older device, and this satisfies that. It's a small, sturdy, fast device, but it's not intimidating.

Is Apple trying to meet demand for cheaper devices, particularly in the international market?

Some people have been saying Apple is not an enterprise company, but that's not true.

Freimark: The international market is huge, [particularly the] international enterprise market. Enterprises in the US are something like 90% Apple, but in Europe, it's only 10-15%. [European companies] will get something cheap and [poorly] made because price is an issue there. The iPhone 5 was a big hit in China and India; you've got to remember how much Apple is focused on China, to the point it would make a special product just for China. Maybe this is it.

What about the new iPad Pro?

Freimark: The bigger 12.9-inch iPad Pro was too huge for anyone but artists; this one's the right size. Yes, it's the same size as the iPad Air 2, but there's a lot more technology in this. People are talking about how the screen works [better] outdoors. I'd love to take my iPad outside and do some work; my old iPad gets too much glare, so the new one will work well for that.

Can the iPad Pro get PC users to embrace Apple mobility?

Freimark: Yes, slowly. Two airlines we work with are giving iPads to all the flight attendants and pilots -- a total of 35,000 devices. More people are going to be using [iPads in the enterprise]. They're a lot less expensive and have a lot less support costs compared to a traditional Windows PC. Some of the pieces make [the iPad Pro] a much more useful tool, and I think some people are going to give up their laptops.

But are small devices practical in the workplace?

Freimark: For little things. I'm not going to do a big spreadsheet … but we've all learned to adjust. Ten years ago I was a huge proponent of having multiple monitors on my desk, but who does that anymore?

Whether you want to use a 4- or 6-inch phone or 12-inch iPad, it doesn't matter. Use what you want. That's where we are now.

So anything goes?

Freimark: Anything has to go. As a worker, I've got a lot more choices, and I prefer it.

What's different in iOS 9.3, and how are the changes useful for businesses?

Freimark: It's very significant. It's part of Apple making modifications to make [the devices] better for the enterprise. Apple doesn't have a phone made just for business, but it does have a switch to put software into corporate, business mode, and that's called Supervision. It allows companies to have more control over the device. It's a huge deal Apple is doing that -- it's something Android has been doing.

Some people have been saying Apple is not an enterprise company, but that's not true. [It] actually engineers a lot of things for the enterprise but doesn't market it. A lot of things under the hood [are] just for businesses.

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