On the eve of Apple’s suspected launch of the iPad 3, The Business Journals’ (http://www.bizjournals.com) new national study among small and mid-sized business (SMB) owners reveals how critical the iPad and other mobile devices have become to this business segment. 

According to the findings, iPad usage has nearly quadrupled among the SMB market over the past year, growing from 9% in 2010 to 34% in 2011, indicating that the iPad is the fastest growing technology among the SMB market. In addition, since the iPad’s launch in April 2010, familiarity with the product has reached incredibly high levels in its less than two year life span with 75% of SMB owners report now being “very or somewhat familiar” with the device. Godfrey Phillips, vice president of Research at The Business Journals, hypothesizes that the growth of the iPad is part of a new phenomenon overtaking the SMB market. 

“Our research has shown that for SMB owners, productivity and efficiency, which used to be the central benefits of technology, are now declining in importance compared to accessibility,” he says. “Now, it’s crucial that business owners have access to their business information and data, anytime and anywhere. The iPad, as well as smartphones and cloud computing, are all part of this new trend and are experiencing significant growth as a result of that need.”

The study also identified that iPad users in the SMB community — 34% — are tech-savvy and financially successful. In addition to being highly educated with 72% having a college education, this segment’s annual household incomes (HHI) averages US$176,000. Their companies are also well-established, having existed for an average of 28 years and averaging $9.2 million in annual sales. 

The study, which will be available March 31, was undertaken by The Business Journals, surveying a nationally representative sample of over 1,400 business owners, CEOs and presidents of companies with 5-499 employees.