JPMorgan Chase & Co. will give its investment bankers iPads to provide an additional mobile tool as Apple Inc. expands its domain to Wall Street, threatening Research in Motion Ltd. in a market it traditionally dominated.
"We believe there are real benefits in our working environment that can be realized using this device — as well as the personal productivity and enjoyment that come as part of the package," two managing directors at New York's JPMorgan said in an e-mail obtained by Bloomberg News.
Apple is building on its momentum in the tablet space, leveraging its 95% market share to expand from its traditional consumer base into the corporate market as RIM readies a rival device, the BlackBerry PlayBook.
The Canadian maker of smartphones is trying to catch up with Apple as banks including Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse Group AG unveil applications for the iPad and Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. consider letting employees use iPhones instead of Wall Street's 11-year-old device of choice, the BlackBerry.
JPMorgan, the second-largest U.S. lender by assets behind Bank of America, will distribute iPads free of charge to all associates in its global investment banking division, according to the Nov. 24 e-mail.
Employees will get to keep the device as long as they remain at the unit until the pilot program ends on May 1, 2011.
Bankers will be able to access e-mails, contacts, calendar and attachments via Microsoft Outlook, as well as have the ability to mark up and annotate confidential documents and make client presentations, according to the e-mail.
They will also be allowed to download applications for personal use.
"There are a variety of ways to leverage the iPad. Some work off the shelf, whilst others rely on JPMorgan software/security tools," the managing directors said. "Depending on its success, we will evaluate if we should repeat this one-time initiative and/or expand it to others."
JPMorgan spokeswoman Lauren Francis declined to comment.
"Many corporations, including Wall Street, are looking at iPad for business use," said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Kaufman Brothers LP. "There are two things attracting IT managers to the iPad: it's easy to use and the price is pretty attractive relative to traditional notebooks."
IPad sales jumped 28% to 4.19 million units in the quarter ended Sept. 30, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, RIM is winning customers for the tablet ahead of its first-quarter debut. Toronto insurer Sun Life Financial Inc. has agreed to buy as many as 1,000 PlayBooks, and the Canadian banking unit of ING Group NV says it will also purchase the device.
Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.
Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for Waterloo, Ontario's RIM, could not immediately comment.
Morgan Stanley unveiled an application for the iPhone and the iPad on Aug. 23, allowing its clients to access the New York bank's research on mobile phones.
Credit Suisse, based in Zurich, followed with its own equity and fixed-income research application on Oct. 21 and JPMorgan said Nov. 15 that customers can access its investment-bank reports on the iPad.
Barclays PLC is planning to release an application early next year, according to a person familiar with the process.
Standard Chartered PLC, the U.K. lender that earns about three-quarters of its profit in Asia, became one of the first and biggest firms to drop the BlackBerry for the iPhone in May. The London bank said in a May 20 statement that it will nearly double the number of mobile devices to 15,000 by yearend, when it plans to complete distributing the smartphones to employees.
Employees at Citigroup, based in New York, and Bank of America, with headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., may also have the option to ditch their BlackBerry devices for iPhones, according to three people familiar with the plans.
This story has been reprinted with permission from American Banker.
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Corrected December 1, 2010 at 10:41AM: yes