Sunday, April 04, 2010

Let's Talk iPad

Yeah, talking about the iPad is a little off-topic for this blog. But I really want to write about the iPad...got two on Release Day (if I had to share with my wife, I'd never see it)...and it is my blog, after all. And, as you'll see, it's not really all that far off topic.

So, yeah, I own a iPad now. Got the lowest-priced model: 16mb, no 3G. But my use case seems a little different from most - my primary intent is to create rather than just consume. I bought the iPad as an alternative to a laptop or a notebook; it's my new mobile computing platform. Fits perfectly into my workflow between my iMac desktop and my iPhone.

So, after a whole day, what do I think? Well, there's some good and some bad.

For the most part, I really like the form factor. It's small, light and mobile. But it's heavier than a Kindle - your fingers will feel the strain after holding the iPad in your hands for 10 minutes or so. And while it does feel great in your hands, the metal back makes it a little slippery - get the case.

The iPad is blazing fast - I've never seen anything quite so quick and responsive. The virtual keyboard, while better than the iPhone's, is not made for serious typing - looking forward to the full-sized keyboard/dock that should arrive next week (although I've also found that my Bluetooth keyboard works well).

Not really missing the MIA front-facing camera that so many have lamented. Nor do I notice the lack of 3G - this is my uber-netbook; I have my iPhone for connectivity when I'm out and about.

Overall, I'm pretty happy over my decision to roll the dice on an iPad. You can read lots of reviews on the workings of the iPad, so I won't rehash it again here...Google is your friend.

Still, what I'm really excited about is the game-changing nature of the iPad. No, not because it will drive down Kindle prices or cause netbook producers to adapt. It's not even the potential in higher education (all your textbooks on a single iPad) that really hits me. It's the potential for the iPad as a field service appliance and a mobile enterprise computing platform.

Let's talk the obvious first: how long do you think it will be before your doctor carries an iPad into the examination room to see patients? How about outside sales people? I wonder how my auto dealer will feel about having the service department storing all their manuals and technical service bulletins on an iPad? Hmmm...a full hardware catalog on an iPad? Get the idea?

Now let's talk enterprise mobile computing. Creating spreadsheets, presentations (including video projector interface), word processing, IMing, email...iPad does all that today...and for general and administrative white collar types, what else is there? Executives checking BI metrics between meetings without the need to open a laptop or netbook? Light mobile computing on the road (this thing is much lighter than a netbook or laptop, yet performs basic computing tasks just as well)?

Remember the scenes from Star Trek when an officer hands a report or duty roster to the captain on a nice, thin, rectangular little gizmo - that's an iPad possibility.

Heck, I even took a shot this evening at running Oracle APEX on my iPad (the web-hosted flavor)...so far, so good. Shades of SaaS - the iPad could be a pretty nifty client in that model. How about accessing your ERP system in a SaaS model via an iPad? Gosh, guess this post isn't all that far off topic after all, is it? I wonder how long it will be before some cutting-edge enterprise architect includes the iPad in the technology layer of his or her future-state EA?

Now, don't misunderstand - we're mostly talking potential here. And potential is a nice way of saying it ain't done yet. The iPad, out of the box, has definitely jumped to the top of the heap if you're looking to watch Netflix or read the NY Times. It will be some time before we see the iPad used in some of the ways I've mentioned here. Lots to be worked out - what's the TCO model as units owned by a single entity scales up? How is reliability (my display is showing signs of going south - headed to the Genius Bar very soon)? What unknown version 1.0 issues will iPad owners work through over the next few months?

Overall, I think I've held a slice of the future in my hands over the past 24 hours...my head is swimming with the possibilities...and they're all very cool!

BTW, I'll have my iPad with me at Collaborate 10 in Las Vegas later this month. Track me down if you want to take a quick turn at the wheel. In the meantime, hit the comments.

UPDATE: Daring Fireball's John Gruber posted a great iPad review. I really like his comment about how the iPad becomes the app. Check it out here.

UPDATE 2: Still loving my iPad a week later, but really irritated with AT&T. My options for 3G service here in the U.S. are to buy a more expensive iPad and pay extra for 3G service (above and beyond what I already pay for my iPhone) or do without on the iPad; AT&T does not support iPhone tethering in the U.S and my iPhone 3GS on 3.1.3 lacks a jailbreak solution. Working this week on tethering iPhone to iPad via Bluetooth and VNC (can transfer files via Bluetooth, but the actual tethering is still not happening). I think if I can't get it done, I may terminate my iPhone data plan with AT&T and pick up a Verizon MiFi. I'll keep ya'all posted.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hundai has already announced that with their new luxury sedan, there will be no manuals, it will all be on the nice iPad that's part of the deal. I like this. My physicians are already using the kind of tablet PC where the screen swivels but you have to use a stylus.
Future is here.

John said...

I bought the 16 GB version also and I am enjoying it. I pre-ordered mine after looking at what the other brands had to offer and this seemed to be the better buy. I am working on my masters in IT and want to purchase my books in electronic form and read PDFs but found I read beeter with something in my hands.

I have read where 2 colleges are giving iPads to students starting next school year, incentive to go there...who knows.

Bob Rhubart said...

I'm seriously jonesing for an iPad. The gap between what it can do and what my little netbook can do is negligible, and made even more microscopic by the iPad's speed and performance.

My sense is that this thing really is another game-changer.

Jake said...

Wait, what? Your display is wonky already? Have to agree that speed is what hit me first. Can't wait to see those chips in Macbooks.

I'm too cheap to buy one, so I glommed on the Best Buy demo models.

fteter said...

@Anonymous: The Hyundai thing is just the beginning. You'll see all sorts of manuals and reference materials coming via iPad. And that PC stylus...it would just be something else for me to lose :)

@John: I too still am still more comfortable right now with the "dead tree" version of a book in my hands...but that's changing quickly for me.

@Bob Rhubart: If you get to Collaborate, I'll have mine on me - you're welcome to play with it for a bit.

@Jake: Yeah, my first one had a wonky display shortly after unboxing. Apple replaced it immediately. I suspect we'll see those chips in a new iPhone this summer - which will really make that puppy fly. I'll bet the chips show up as multi-core in the MBP in the near future...can't wait to see that.

Anonymous said...

Okay I'm convinced! Can't wait to play with my daughter's Ipad. See ya! (^0^)