A new report shows that the iPad, often assessed as a consumer device for watching movies and playing games, is finding an increasingly warm welcome among businesses. The ChangeWave survey finds the highest level ever in companies that will be buying the Apple device.

The new report was conducted before the release of the newest, high-definition iPad with a 4G LTE option, which could drive business Relevant Products/Services acceptance levels higher.

Seven Percentage-Point Increase

The survey found that 22 percent of responding companies are expecting to buy tablets by the end of the second quarter. Of those prepared to buy tablets, a whopping 84 percent plan to buy iPads. This is a seven-point increase from the most recent ChangeWave survey in November, representing the highest level of interest in buying an iPad in the company's surveys.

The survey, which queried 1,604 business IT buyers, also shows that not only are businesses more interested in iPads, but they're less interested in other tablets. For example, for companies interested in getting tablets, the percentage interested in Samsung tablets fell from 10 percent to 8 percent between the current survey and the one in November.

For tablets from Amazon, HP, Asus, Dell, RIM/BlackBerry, Lenovo, and Motorola, the interest in the previous survey was between 7 percent and 4 percent and, in each case, it dropped one or two points in the current study.

ChangeWave also looked at the wireless service that businesses were expecting to use with the tablets, and found AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless in a near dead heat.

IDG Connect, Gartner Relevant Products/Services Reports

AT&T was the choice for 30 percent of those intending to buy tablets, up one point since November. Verizon was selected by 29 percent, also up one point. Sprint was a distant third at 4 percent, the same as in the last survey.

The ChangeWave survey reinforces trends found in other recent reports. For instance, in January an IDG Connect White Paper global survey, based on interviews with IT and business professionals around the world, found that iPads are increasingly supplementing or even replacing PCs.

Based on interviews with IT and business professionals around the world, that report concluded that 16 percent of respondents are using their iPad instead of their laptop, and 54 percent are supplementing their laptop with the iPad.

In some markets, such as the Middle East, as many as 70 percent of the IDG respondents say they have at least "partly replaced" their laptop with an iPad. The IDG report also found a profound transformation among businesses in how textual and visual content is now being consumed, with iPad-owning IT and business professionals rapidly moving away from newspapers and printed books or materials toward digital-only content.

On Monday of this week, Gartner predicted that the cloud Relevant Products/Services will replace the PC as the "center of users' digital lives" by 2014. This prediction envisions that a variety of devices will point to the cloud, so that highly mobile Relevant Products/Services and versatile ones, such as tablets, could take an even larger role than they currently do, as a window into the cloud.