ZDNet’s Eric Lai, who writes the Uber Mobile blog, brought up an interesting idea recently, when he wrote about the benefits to enterprises to lease, not buy, tablet computers.

With all the hubbub surrounding the soon-to-be-released iPad 3, it’s definitely a proposal worth considering. By outfitting workers with iPads that have been acquired through a leasing agent, companies can not only save money up front, but actually end up paying a little under retail over the life of the tablets.

There are some other interesting selling points to the leasing argument: Two- (or sometimes three-) year leases help keep companies more or less up-to-date with the latest technology. Further, by shipping older models back to the leasing agent (who can then resell those refurbs), you’ll get a discount on the up-front cost of the equipment, plus avoid having to recycle the machines yourself. Of course, different leasing companies will have different fees (that’s how they make money, after all), so you’d have to do a little shopping to find the right deal. But in terms of getting the latest equipment in your workers’ hands for not-much money down, it’s certainly a worthwhile option.

From the blog:

“… Let’s compare leasing to a scenario where a company borrows money from the bank to buy the iPads and then must pay interest on the repayments. Compared to that, leasing and returning iPads to [a leasing company] is like paying a ‘negative [implied] interest rate. …’”

Although, as Lai points out, the entire buy-versus-lease debate assumes companies don’t choose to simply follow Option C: Just having employees use their own equipment.

ABOUT Ian Stewart

Ian is a veteran journalist who has covered sports for various news outlets. Previously, he was managing editor for an electronic-book publishing company and a public relations writer.