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'Sent From my iPad' Gains as Small Business Signature

Tuesday, 6 Mar 2012 | 12:54 PM ET
Black and white versions of the new iPad 2.
Getty Images
Black and white versions of the new iPad 2.

The number of small and mid-sized businesses using iPads has increased from 9 percent in 2010 to 34 percent in 2011, a new study reveals.

And predictions are it will continue to grow, as a newer, faster version is expected to be revealed tomorrow at an Apple event.

The tablet has become popular among business owners, who are replacing computers and cash registers with the portable, less-expensive iPads.

Even New York cabbies are finding them useful; a pilot program to replace the TV sets in the back seats of yellow cabs with iPads is offering drivers a less-expensive alternative to credit card fees and passengers an ad-free ride.

While Apple has not confirmed that it will be unveiling a new iPad at its event — beyond sayinig it has something "you really need to see. And touch." — speculation is rampant that a new version with a larger screen and faster connectivity is on the way.

Small business owners who are already hooked on the iPad are gearing up for the expected sale of the new version of the device. According to the study, from The Business Journals, the iPad is the fastest growing technology in the small business market. While many have been early adopters, others are now considering how their businesses will benefit from the latest technological improvements.

Members of our Small Business Council are among those early adopters.

Joseph Dutra has owned an iPad since the first version came out in early 2010. Recently, he said, “I gave my iPad to my daughter, who works at the company, and she loves it. Which leaves the president and CEO of Kimmie Candy Company without his own iPad. Which is OK, he said. “It forces me to get another." He's anticipating buying the latest version as soon as it goes on sale. one as soon as it hits the shelves, around March 16.

Those that have them, it seems, are hooked.

My iPad 2 is an indispensable business and personal tool,” said Cristi Cristich,CEO and founder of Cristek Interconnects. “I’m now on my second one. Initially I bought it for reading email, but I’m finding more and more business uses all the time.”

Still Cristich, like many of our SBC members, said they aren’t planning on updating right away.

Mitch Free, founder and CEO of MFG.com, an early adopter who bought the first iPad, upgraded to an iPad 2 “when I left my first iPad on an airplane. I’m not planning on buying an iPad 3 unless I lose my iPad 2.”

Ric Cabot, owner and founder of Darn Tough Vermont, is still using his first-generation iPad, and is waiting to see what Apple is offering in the new version. “If the third generation really ups the bar, I'd consider really trading up,” he said.

And David Grenier, president of Greiner Buick GMC, noted that he has been buying iPads as replacements for computers. “We use [iPads] as a way to increase mobility in our interactions with customers as well as a way to save costs on CPU replacements.” While he’s not planning to upgrade existing iPads, “we’ll continue to purchase tablets as our CPUs age,” he said.

Beezer Molton, president nad founder of Half Moon Outfitters, has not yet purchased iPads for his store. However, he said, he is “considering a big investment that essentially hinges on iPads,” as a way for sales associates to make transactions on the sales floor. “We use antiquated handhelds for some applications and feel very unhip,” he said. “My younger employees don't understand our dated equipment.”

We weren't able to learn from Marc Schupan, president, Schupan & Sonds, how he uses iPads in his business. “I’m unable to respond because I am traveling," he responded. However, we know he uses one. Under his signature was the tell-tale sign, "Sent from my iPad.”

Email us at SmallBiz@cnbc.com
Follow us on Twitter @SmallBizCNBC

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