Bayada negotiated with T-Mobile to minimize or sidestep completely overage charges for cellular data plans. More
enterprise accounts are renegotiating data deals, and many are working out pooled plans, which gives more
flexibility for employees who might use more or less than the individual monthly limit, according to Snyder. "Five
gigabytes for $50 a month is a typical consumer plan," he notes. "But one HD video conference for one hour will
take 1 gigabyte. Users with iPad 3's Retina Display will want high definition, but that will drive data usage and
charges through the roof."
Another option is negotiating with carriers for Wi-Fi services, so tablet users can make use of Wi-Fi
connections when available without cutting into monthly data plans. But Snyder says "right now, Wi-Fi is getting
worse and worse, as you can see at an airport." Enterprises need to know what Wi-Fi services their carriers can
offer, or support, and how well it performs.
Broken tablets, support costs
One issue starting to emerge for some of these companies is breakage or other tablet failures. "One of my
complaints is the fragility of the devices," says Hawthorn's Hilton. "I'm underwhelmed by their durability." After
five to 10 iPad screens were broken and shipped out to a third-party depot for $160 worth of repairs each,
including shipping, Hilton decided to bring the repairs in-house: so far about 20 of the 120 original devices have
run into problems.
"We probably could have bought a more durable case, but I was hesitant to wrap this flash device in something
that would make it look like a tank," he says. "I thought we had found a good compromise between convenience and
protection." [You can see examples in this GearZap review of rugged cases from OtterBox,
Case-Mate, CoolBananas, HardCandy, and Speck CandyShell.]
Bayada has a tablet "break rate" of less than 5%, which hasn't been painful so far, says Andrew Gentile. Users
ship a broken device to IT for evaluation, and IT coordinates repairs and replaces the tablet for the user if
Dealing with broken tablets is only one small part of the related support costs, which involve not only the
traditional help desk, but also corporate wireless
LAN upgrades (both performance and coverage), administration and provisioning, and even creating a new generation
of custom applications that can fully exploit
the tablet's strengths.