Is the Apple iPad Becoming Corporate America’s Favorite Accessory?

After spending years in Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) shadow, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is finally making its way into corporate offices. The company’s iPad has paved the way for its entry by becoming a popular business tool.

Just how popular is the iPad? According to an IDG Connect survey, 51 percent of managers who have iPads “always” use it at work with 40 percent sometimes doing so. An even larger number, 79 percent, will use their iPad for business when outside of the office.

The financial and pharmaceutical industries are really enjoying the iPad. Mutual fund king Fidelity Investments has created iPad applications that allow clients to check mutual funds and retirement accounts without having to go through the process of using a computer.

Pharmaceutical companies have their salespeople utilizing iPads to show product information to doctors. And in Apple’s recent earnings conference call, its Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer mentioned that Royal Dutch Shell Plc (NYSE:RDSA), Credit Suisse Group AG (NYSE:CS) and Nike Inc. (NYSE:NKE) have distributed iPads to their employees.

Look for even more adoption of this versatile tablet as iPad shipments to commercial markets, such as education and health care, are expected to increase to 52.6 million in 2013, up from this year’s 38.3 million.

With the iPad and the iPhone becoming more common in corporate America, it only makes sense that Mac computers should advance in this arena. According to Bloomberg, Apple sold 3.8 million Mac computers (3 percent of the market) to companies in this last fiscal year.

Should Apple expand that to 18 million Macs per year, which is on par with the No. 3 PC maker, Lenovo Group Ltd. (LNVGY), this would add $23 billion for the company.

One analyst believes that with consumers’ appetites for Apple products, it would be easier to add the Macs with less investment than from its rivals such as Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HPQ) or Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL), according to Anand Srinivasan, a Bloomberg Industries analyst. He sees a lot of growth for Apple in the commercial space.

Apple is already anticipating expansion by hiring salespeople for different industries and other positions such as a “B2B Quality Coach,” according to it website. Additional changes include a volume purchasing program for corporate buying.

Don’t expect too much change to take place quickly. Some corporations may stick to their usual vendors to meet their enterprise needs and let their consumers be the more advanced ones with Apple products.