Is the iPad a Work Device?

Should Apple’s competition be scared? Absolutely. Apple has done it again.

Yesterday TMC received its iPad and you may recall me watching it as it left China and made its way to Alaska. Once it was set up I took into a meeting to see if was any more useful than my Dell laptop. While the iPad is more immersive allowing you to have a very close connection to the Internet what I found was only partially surprising.

The meeting I was in, involved a major corporate presentation and my executive team had less than an hour to put the final touches on a PowerPoint. We decided to add a partner logo to one of our slides and I volunteered to grab the logo from the partner’s site.

I surfed to the site from the iPad and found that the webmaster decided to make the entire site out of Adobe Flash which meant it didn’t show up on the iPad. I turned on the laptop and took a screen shot of the logo and emailed it to my team.

Then a partner called and during the conference call I wanted to share information with my team members in the conference room while I took some notes. But the challenge with the iPad is there is no multitasking meaning no one can communicate with me via Skype unless I stay in the program. Once again I had to use the laptop.

The iPad is infinitely cooler than the Dell E6500 which next to Apple’s design looks like it runs on vacuum tubes. I had it in the car with me yesterday and used it to check email at traffic lights. I noticed the SUV and van drivers nearby were straining their necks to peek into my car to see what I was doing. Obviously the cool factor is a big part of why these devices have sold more than a million units so far.

Just as many complained about the lack of a real keyboard on the iPhone and then got over it – the soft-typing experience on the iPad is fine and if it isn’t enough for you an external keyboard is available. I have one but haven’t tried it. Interestingly I plugged my iPhone into the iPad keyboard and it didn’t work.

The iPad is more or less a large iPod Touch and this is generally a good thing. The interface is a bit different and in a few cases I get the feeling the iPad’s interface isn’t as well-thought out as the iPod’s because menus look small on the much larger screen.

I should point out one other important part of the iPad experience. There are many free news apps like USA Today and BBC which are quite good. They are so good in fact I can’t see why people will pay for news on this device. It is the same challenge many print publisher’s face on the web – the competition from free news source is just too great. In addition there is an application from Glass House Apps called Early Edition – it costs $4.99 and turns any RSS feed into a virtual newspaper. I have heard good things about this app from many people and it has lived up to expectations. Google Reader too works fairly well on this latest gadget sensation. Point being, the iPad is a very good device for consuming media but it is tough to see how it will make people shell out more money for content if so much of it is free and apps such as Early Edition allow you to make free content look fantastic. I should note that Early Edition did have problems with RSS feeds from TMCnet for some reason.

How this blog looks on The Early Edition App on an iPad


So is this a work device? Sure. It is great for the office. You just can’t multitask or use background apps such as IM. You obviously also can’t stream music, news broadcasts etc and run any applications at the same time. But it is more socially acceptable in meetings than a laptop which sticks up and hinders conversations. You can use it comfortably on a lap and it really doesn’t interfere with live conversations. Should Apple’s competition be scared? Absolutely. Apple has done it again.

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