Nick Huber reports on the demand for leasing tablet PCs and the future trends expected in this fast-moving technological sector.
A plan by IBM to offer UK businesses the option of leasing tablet PCs has highlighted a potentially lucrative market for asset finance providers.
By offering low-interest financing on tablet PCs, IBM said that it will enable clients to reduce up-front cash outlays and better match payments to benefits.
In a statement, IBM said: “Instead of buying a tablet at $599 [€416] and imaging it for another $200, companies can lease it for about $20 a month.
Although the service has been launched in the US, an IBM spokesman told Leasing Life that it planned to let UK businesses lease tablet PCs. With the PC market showing signs of having passed its peak, fast-growing consumer demand for tablet devices such as Apple’s iPad and BlackBerry’s PlayBook tablet, has opened up a new IT market for asset finance companies.
Follow IBM’s announcement, other providers in this sector are also arguably well equipped to offer similar programmes.
Dell declined to provide sales figures for its leased products, but said that it had seen growing demand for tablet devices across all businesses.
Simon Hall, Dell head of marketing for the UK, Ireland and for consumer, small and medium business, said: “Dell has seen an increased interest in, and adoption of, tablets by businesses of all different sizes and from a wide range of industries from both the private and public sector.
“As such, Dell plans to leverage and build on its leadership as a business client PC provider and offer a ‘business ready’ tablet later this year.”
Tablets can bring new benefits to a work environment, such as increased productivity, flexibility and mobility, but they also bring with them security and management challenges, added Hall.
In the UK, the market for leasing table PCs is in its infancy – but has good potential, according to Bluestone Leasing, which specialises in financing IT assets.
The company, which is based in Yorkshire, northern England, leases iPads to organisations that range from a hairdresser salon group, which provides iPads rather than magazines for customers to browse through, to schools.
Currently, sales from leasing tablet devices only account for about one to two per cent of Bluestone’s sales.
However, Bluestone sales director Steve Russell said this figure could jump to as high as 10% over the next two years as tablets enter the mainstream.
“Tablet devices will become more ubiquitous and help business users harness the power of social media,” Russell said.
Customers find it easier to justify investing in new technology, such as iPads if they lease rather than buy the devices, Russell said. For iPads, typical lease contracts are for three years.
Another IT leasing specialist, Syscap, was more sceptical about the prospects for leasing tablet PCs to business, but said that the market could expand.
“To date, tablet devices are not being widely used in a business environment, save for say ‘a nice to have’ for the business head,” said Syscap business services manager Lisa Little.
This often means that if they want one, they pay for it themselves.
So, as a business to business IT finance provider, Syscap has only been asked to finance them on occasion and usually as part of/included in a company wide IT business solution or in a teaching environment in the education sector.”