iPads are making in-roads into the business market. They may also be opening a door for the MacBook Air to “sneak in.”

A total of 8.87 million tablet computers are being used by US SMBs [small to medium sized businesses], Techaisle’s survey (http://www.techaisle.com) of 1,356 SMBs reveals. It is estimated that slightly over 50% have been purchased by consumers and used for business.

Reflecting its strong consumer roots, the iPad dominates among very small businesses; however, Android is making inroads among larger SBs and MBs. Overall, 64% of SMBs are single OS adopters.

Approximately 71% of SMBs are using tablets as an additional device rather than replacements — which, I’ve long contended, is the long term future of the tablet computer. Of the SMBs who plan to buy a tablet in the next 12 months, 77% are repeat buyers. While most tablet purchases are intended to be add-ons to existing computers, larger SMBs express a desire to replace notebooks with these devices.

Techaisle says the actual purchase decision will likely be driven by a more logical analysis of capabilities of both devices — for example, lighter notebooks with better battery life and instant on capabilities could hinder replacement by tablet computers. Security, lack of keyboard and compatibility are key inhibitors in adopting tablets. This may provide an opening for MacBook Airs in companies that want tablet-like devices, but with keyboards and the ability to run higher end productivity software.

— Dennis Sellers