Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What the iPad means for business

Photo / AP

iPad is the latest innovation from Apple, surely you've heard of it?
For those that haven't it's (visually at least) a stretched iPhone. A lot bigger but smaller than a laptop... just short of an a4 page.
However it's way beyond that...

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one early on, thanks to a kind reader of my blog who offered me theirs (which was surplus to requirements).

A bank transaction later it arrived in the office ready for us to play. I will say it's very magnetic, people are drawn to it instantly (the Steve Jobs Apple PR machine definitely helps).

The iPad is an in-between device, for those that don't really need a full laptop at home (or at work). It's for casual browsing, gaming and working on documents. Consumers will find themselves using it to connect with others online, work on their photos & videos and do the spot of shopping.

Like the iPhone it will be the apps which drive the success. Who knows what app will appeal to you? Whether it's a mapping application, a recipe app or an app that tells you to water the plants.

What does it mean for business though? That's the question we pondered in the office.

First few days, I'll admit, it was more games, music and youtube. All of which are amazing! Racing a car game tilting the device to steer is a heck of a lot of fun.

Immediately we have used it to demo clients digital assets, the sense of ownership by holding the device and playing with your own website or Facebook app is very compelling.

Extending this you can get Keynote (the Apple equivalent of Powerpoint) for about $NZ15 which allows you to sync presentations with your computer but also build presentations on the iPad. When you can then of course use when dealing with customers. The tactility of showing them a presentation makes it much more personal, with the client able to slide their finger across to the next slide.

iMockups is another great one we have used, it allows you to mock up a website or application. By dragging and dropping elements with your fingers it gives for great control. As averse to using a mouse which feels like pulling one lever which knocks another lever to resize your image.

But what if you're not a tech based company? VendHQ a local startup offers a compelling use.

They offer retail management software which operates within the browser (offline & online). The iPad paired with VendHQ offers a perfect match, allowing shop assistants to roam the store and process payments wherever the customer is.

Emails of course are a pre-requisite of everyday business. Surfing Gmail on the iPad is a dream, they've created a lightweight interface which is perfect for touch based emails, you can select emails on the left, read them on the right.

The simplicity of the device allows for greater focus on each application, ensuring less distractions and gettting on with the task at hand. It also achieves what we kind of lost with laptops - real portability. You can take this anywhere, sit down and get stuck into whatever you need.