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The Screen That Matters


On November 1, we reported on how Dreyfus Corp., manager of more than $400 billion in mutual funds and separately managed accounts, was giving iPads to all of its 70 salespeople, across three divisions.

The underwriting of tablet computers is going to pay for itself quickly in savings on FedEx shipments of sales, marketing and regulatory updates. Along the way, reps will remove milk crates full of paper from their cars and get full use of their trunk space back.

Last week, J.P. Morgan unveiled its own iPad app, designed to give its customers easy access to research reports and insight from its 1,000 analysts, on economic indicators, markets, companies and asset classes around the world.

So it should be no surprise to read the Good Technology report that indicates that the heaviest adoption of the iPad in corporate America is by financial services firms, at 36% of activations. The technology sector came in second at 11%, healthcare third at 10%.

The connecting tissue: The need to deliver time-sensitive data that could be immediately used to...turn a profit. Plus, a degree of control in delivering information that makes I.T. departments happy.

The message here is: Don't sit back. This is one revolution that will be-or should be-led by smart mutual fund complexes, exchange-traded fund companies and managed account providers.

At the Web 2.0 conference last week in San Francisco, Morgan Stanley's Internet analyst, Mary Meeker, quantified the phenomenon. She showed that the ramp rate of the iPad, the iPhone and the iTouch exceeds the ramp up of the desktop Internet in 1994 and 1995, with AOL and Netscape, and the ramp up in Japan of the mobile Internet in 1999.

The number of smartphones being shipped will exceed the number of PCs (both desktop and laptop) being shipped, in just two years (2012). And just as Apple has been a huge disruptor in the past three years to mobile device makers Nokia and BlackBerry as well as all makers of netbooks, it now has to watch its flank. The fastest growing mobile operating system? Android, from Google.

The point is: The screen that matters is no longer the one on top of anyone's desk.

It's the one that can be held in one hand. Or, at most, two.