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Thursday, April 08, 2010

iPad, Glorious iPad

Shipped from the USA, our iPad has been in the office for 27 hours or so... well, nearly. The MD took it to a meeting yesterday afternoon and then home and played in to the small hours with it. And now it has gone to another meeting. Interestingly, the meeting yesterday was about the development of an Android phone app, but that quickly got forgotten as the iPad stole the limelight.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with it this morning, looking over it with colleagues and have received a variety of opinions:

The Sales Team: they loved it. It is a tactile thing that wants to be used, to be touched, to be seen. They can see that putting it in front of customers with their iPhone / iPad app on will blow them away. I guess the telling sign is that all bar none have expressed their desire to get hold of an iPad.

The Support Team: the only comment required is that as I left the Head of Support was on the phone to his wife, currently on business in the USA, asking her to get to an Apple Store! (Update: she is on a waiting list!) (Update #2: Wife was able to pick up 64GB iPad; Head of Support uncontrollably happy!).

Design Team: in spite of expressed concerns our Senior Designer 'loves it'. The slickness of the interface has impressed him, and he too sees how clients will love seeing their imagery in a fresh crisp view. He was exploring how he could justify to his wife the purchase!

Development Team: it shouldn't surprise that their view focused on its gaming potential - the additional control that the larger surface offers over the much smaller iPhone was evident as a Senior Developer demolished a tower in 'Angry Birds'. When questioned, the dev team confirmed that they would rather build for iPhone / iPad (iPad using a similar development framework to iPhone) than for other mobile platforms.

The client: I took the liberty of introducing a long-standing client to the iPad; his reaction used colourful language to illustrate his surprise at its ease of use and its capabilities.

The girls next door: It's a gadget, a boy thing... really? They were the first to want to touch the screen and flick through pages on the book reader. Mind you the guys from next door were impressed with the comic book reader.

My considered opinion:

This is a great gadget. For viewing websites, ebooks, documents, videos (the on board speaker is pretty good, not great but adequate) and photographs, it is revolutionary. It doesn't have a Flash player, which means media on the BBC website is not viewable (yet?), but the experience of viewing the news pages is great. Really great. In educational situations, I think this may well transform revision - one app that looks at the Periodic Table is phenominal. It is a delight to look at and to use!

Do I see this becoming a business tool? Absolutely. We previously built an iPhone app that presents a host of videos; our dev team converted this for use on the iPad and, wow, it is very impressive. OK, so this app is an instructional tool for a golf tutor, however, the stunning presentation can be applied for use by sales teams, project management ... anyone! For example, in my marketing capacity I can see already how easy potential customers will be able to view a range of documents and supporting videos.

We have an internal app that has an interface on the iPhone. We currently can edit info from the iPhone, however, the touch screen keyboard is not a practical size, comments added, therefore, consist of only a few words. With the iPad and its more capable screen size, it is much easier to type meaning that greater amounts of information will be included. Actually, the word processing app works well; it enables one to add text naturally unlike with the iPhone, and certainly unlike other smartphone devices.

It is because of the combination of these that I think it will become a valuable business tool; it works as a presentation medium, as a document viewer and as a means to capture textual information. And it is fun.
So, perhaps the caveat is that the iPad is going to work well for businesses, provided the right apps exist.

My challenge is now to convince the wife that it is a good idea of hers for us to get one...

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