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Ulitzer - iPad for Business?

Industry trends and perspectives thoughts

iPad For Business

In case you did not hear, Apple announced the iTouch on steroids aka iPad last week.

Apple iPad via www.apple.com

Is it a phone? No, its not an iPhone

Is it a PC? Well, not in the context of the traditional PC or Mac book

What is the iPad or more importantly, what is the possible business angle?

First as to what is it, it might be easier to describe what it is not.

As mentioned above, it is not an iPhone, granted you can get an iPad with 3G or WiFi for data access (similar to how iTouch has WiFi). Likewise, the iPad is not a PC in the context of running applications traditionally found on Windows PCs or Mac devices.

Apple iPadWhat is it?
As far as what is the iPad, here is a link to its specifications, some of which have resulted in confusion. For example, I have seen many comments about how the iPad does not have a camera. Well, not built in however there is an optional external camera if you need one.

As a side note, Im curious as to the net effect of how many PBytes of storage, TBytes of network bandwidth, and ExaHertz (I made that one up) of processing cycles were consumed via downloads or people watching the news of the iPad launch?

However, Im seeing additional uses for the iPad compared to the iTouch given its larger physical screen size and data access options, even if it is not a phone. For example, I can see scenarios in education where if the publishers get on board, can make a real transition from text books to eBooks to Goggle scanned books, however given the economics involved, and the already Amazon (e.g. Kindle) vs. Apple (iPad) Elephant wars, it will be interesting to watch.

Yet another area where I can see iPads being used closer to business will be as an internet, web or cloud content access on ramps, or, portals to access cloud based applications including office suites, email, calendaring payroll, shopping among others.

Likewise I can see where iPads may have custom applications ported to them, or, made accessible via safe secure connections. In other words, there is a scenario where iPads could catch on as a truly thin lightweight multifunction PC alternative.

For some additional thoughts on possible iPad use cases, I recently did a podcast with Andrew Burton of SearchSMB at TechTarget that can be accessed here or here.

iPad receiving mixed responses
Back to the iPad which is getting mixed responses.

There have also been comments about lack of Blue tooth capabilities for the iPad. Again, there is Blue tooth support on the iPad, however the question is really about what that can be used for, or, not used for. For example, there is an optional external keyboard that is attached via docking port, however, there is still no support for Blue tooth enabled deices like my Stowaway folding keyboard. Another question I have is how would the iPad work in my Sync Blue tooth enabled F150 including for use as a turn by turn, or large screen version of moving maps similar to iPhone?

Other iPad knocks include discussions around lack of a camera, that is, if you do not buy the optional external camera. There is also talk of a lack of an Adobe Flash player (at least initially), not to be confused with some headlines that say iPad lacks flash confusing with a perceived of lack of flash SSD memory or storage (iPad actually relies on flash aka SSD memory for storage).

Yet another knock has been that while it looks like an oversize iPhone, and that it will have an optional version with 3G cell technology for communicating with web or data services, it will not be usable as a phone per say. Hmm, wonder how long it will take for Skype, Vonage or others to appear on the iPad?

One of the questions or discussion points that come up regarding iPhones and now the iPad is the impact on what some already describe as an overloaded wireless network for ATT customers which includes me. Here (and here and here) are a couple of links to recent announcements and news about what ATT has done, and will be doing including investing $2B USD to upgrade their networks.

ATT Mobility

General observations:
There appear to be a couple of bandwagons with this announcement:

  • The usual its Apple or iSomething so its very significant
  • The its a SNT (Shiny New Toy)
  • And, then others who are not quite sure where it fits or why.

Of course, there are the cynics along with skeptics (not to be confused with being one and the same). Some are cynics and discount anything from Apple like their counter parts who discount anything from Microsoft or others that are not part of their preference. However there also seems to be some skepticism among traditional Apple or iSomething fans regarding the iPad, needless to say, they are not doing iCartwheels over the announcement.

I think there is an even larger audience out there waiting to see, hear and learn if there is a play for the iPad, or, if new markets and opportunities will evolve around it for example as an alternative to Kindle, as an alternative to PCs for schools, or as a cloud content on-ramp. In other words, for markets where a PC is not needed. I think that there will be custom applications written for it, similar to those seen on custom platforms used by FedEx, UPS and many others.

There is also going to be the giveaway market where vendors will use iPad as a GUI display for their systems to be more hip that the PC or alternative to giving away Kindles.

PC and Mac peoplePC and Mac People Via www.apple.com

Whats the verdict?
I think the jury is still out, Im not going to race out to the first in my neighborhood to have the shiny new toy (SNT), however I see a place for using it down the road as a content access device or running apps currently on iPhones where that platform is too small.

For example, a medical device maker who runs certain apps on iPhones yet their doctors or support staff find the iPhone to be smaller than desirable may like the iPad. However, apple may need to support .NET or other open or pseudo open interfaces for the platform lest they end up with a simple browser platform.

Given that Im going to skip the first generation of iPad waiting for the next version, similar to what I have done with the original Mac, the initial Apple Mac notebook, Newton, iPod and iPhone, its going to be awhile before I have my own iPad.

Whats your take on the iPad?

Click here to cast your vote on the iPad.

Check back soon to see how the results play out...

Cheers gs

Greg Schulz - Author The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

More Stories By Greg Schulz

Greg Schulz is founder of the Server and StorageIO (StorageIO) Group, an IT industry analyst and consultancy firm. Greg has worked with various server operating systems along with storage and networking software tools, hardware and services. Greg has worked as a programmer, systems administrator, disaster recovery consultant, and storage and capacity planner for various IT organizations. He has worked for various vendors before joining an industry analyst firm and later forming StorageIO.

In addition to his analyst and consulting research duties, Schulz has published over a thousand articles, tips, reports and white papers and is a sought after popular speaker at events around the world. Greg is also author of the books Resilient Storage Network (Elsevier) and The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC). His blog is at www.storageioblog.com and he can also be found on twitter @storageio.