On IPADs for business… (or, “are laptops doomed?”)

 

IPADs in business.  In consulting and I’m sure even as a full time W2 staffer in any I.T. environment you want to be able to pick up your laptop and go, quickly.  It’s common place now to take your laptop to a meeting and seamlessly stay connected with that network based spreadsheet.   On the other hand, people prefer their IPADs in their personal world.  What’s the gap that prevents full business adoption?  I’d like your thoughts.  Please reply or send a message as to what useful business applications you’re finding on the IPAD.   In the meantime, here are some thoughts of mine.

First, the office software for the IPAD is simply not powerful enough.  While programs like Quickoffice allow you create compatible documents and spreadsheets you lose quite a bit of functionality.  I have found that I can use the IPAD to effectively read documents but freely sharing IPAD modified documents is not practical unless you’re simply not using advanced features and graphics.

Second, the human interface to the IPAD is great for the initial intention but not good at all for working long hours or even temporarily at the coffee shop working emails or other collaboration.  However, one peripheral makes this problem totally go away.  A few months ago I bought the Rockfish Bluetooth keyboard and LOVE it.  Below is a picture I took of the one I bought.  It’s not often I am excited about gadgets any more, but this is much more empowering and probably DOUBLES the use of my IPAD. 

Some might say “oh great, yeah he bought a $1k IPAD and then bought a $100.00 keyboard?  Why didn’t he just buy a laptop?”  Fair question, it’s really simple:  PCs have been getting more and more wasteful with storage and memory.  Those of us in I.T. are not fooled by how much “faster” the laptops are getting.  The problem is the operating systems keep piling on junky and wasteful code, consuming resources unnecessarily.  This causes a REQUIREMENT for hardware upgrades, it’s a terrible cycle.  The IPAD-like devices basically hit the RESET button on this nasty trend.  These “mobile” operating systems were designed to operate much more minimally.  Love it!  The apps are designed for those limitations.  The result?  Instant on, instant off, quick adoption and less tension!  THIS is the biggest distinction and is the absolute best case for eliminating laptops.

This device has literally almost removed the business gap.  I can confidently take it most places and only rarely am frustrated about the usability on the road.  I’m still not using it to build complex Visio workflow models yet, but that’s a matter of time.  How long will it take to bridge the software gap?  NOT LONG.  We are demanding it and so it shall be.  So, all this, coupled with the “instant on” nature of IPAD means we’re going to be less and less patient with slow booting, cluttered PCs.  I think we’re going to see a pretty rapid decline in laptop purchases in the next two years.  This is really at the heart of why Microsoft is just now getting in the game, but is it too late?  Maybe not – but it’s cool that the IPAD is forcing the industry to make radical changes for the better.

The IPAD apps are getting more amazing every day.  As an after-hours musician all I can say is WOW!  If you are a musician too you probably know what I’m talking about.  If not, if you have any hobby or special interest there’s probably a cool set of apps written – and not junk either, right?  I mean they really are helpful.  When I’m learning a new hot lick on the mandolin I simply load a song out of Itunes into the IPAD capo app (takes about 2 seconds), then I quickly isolate the lick on the song that I want to learn and play it with a constant loop.  The amount of time to learn that lick is nothing compared to all the work it took before.  Learning pace is way up – and I’m convinced there’s going to be a lot more talented musicians out there than ever before.

Information Technology careers will be no different.  Imagine the utility tools that can be employed.  How about service level alarms and triggers?  Or, maybe an “administrator interface” to all your SQL servers?  I think once this starts happening it’s the old “Katy bar the door”.  The interesting thing is, I’m sure it’s already happening, it’s one of those obvious things, kind of like watching a train coming from afar… you know it’ll be here soon, and there’s no doubt about it.  This will be fun!

Will the IPAD or IPAD-like devices replace PCs?  YES!   Thank goodness!  Or, if an IPAD doesn’t replace the PC it will be something similar, and pretty soon.  One of the most exciting things will be the fall of the “near monopolistic” software products.  There will be so much innovation and job creation it will be a fun time – this time though, it’s global, in a big way.

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