Despite being an overwhelming smash with consumers and having made inroads with business users, Apple’s iPad will ultimately fail in the enterprise because of two Achilles’ heels: price and proprietary software. At least that’s the opinion of Andy Lark, who heads up Dell’s enterprise marketing department. But while IT managers and journalists debate the iPad’s future in the larger business landscape, the device’s promise for field service remains solid.

Lark, in an interview with CIO Australia, said that despite the iPad’s consumer popularity, the tablet simply won’t cut it with business users because of price and proprietary software concerns. While the IT crowd might largely agree with Lark’s assessment, it all could be wishful thinking. Lark’s certainly up against a chorus of vocal opposition. Forrester Research analyst Sarah Rotman recently predicted that the iPad would dominate the U.S. market through 2011, controlling more than 80 percent of the market.

Maybe the iPad won’t work for all businesses — and IT managers and journalists argue over the device’s merits in the larger business world — but service industry experts are generally in agreement over the device’s promise in the service industry.

In an earlier Q&A with The SmartVan, John Ragsdale, VP of technology research for the Technology Services Industry Association, laid out the iPads selling points for service:

The reason I think the iPad is going to be the next new must-have tool for enterprises is because for $500, you get a tool that if you break it, you can walk into any Apple store in America and replace it; everybody knows how to use it; employees want to use them. It’s just so simple and intuitive to use that user success is really good. And on top of all that, the iPad just has a cool factor.

The iPad has its limitations, but Apple certainly has the momentum and shows no signs of letting up. And reviews of Dell’s own tablet, the Streak 7, knock the device on price, design and functionality — and it costs a mere $50 less than the iPad.

Other devices, notably Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Research in Motion’s PlayBook and HP TouchPad, run Windows or Android operating systems that can easily integrate with a company’s existing devices. But Apple’s hot and developers have flooded the App Store with business applications for the tablet. Until a new contender emerges, it’s safe to say the iPad will continue to dominate the field service market for tablets.

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