The iPad is about to steamroll into the Enterprise

Since the iPad was originally introduced people have been buying it for an amazing assortment of tasks.  While no one has been talking much about its penetration in the Enterprise it is getting to a point where it can’t be dismissed or ignored.

Just recently I’ve been to a significant number of meetings where one, two or more of the participants were using an iPad to take notes or look up information.   A quick chat with some of the other participants revealed that several of them are heave iPad users at home but haven’t yet decided to bring it into the office as they prefer to stick to their company issued computers.

The big question is how long will it be before an iPad becomes a company issued computer?  The BBC has already started a trial of the iPad as an all around computer replacement, for certain tasks.  The company’s CIO was quick to grasp that for some specific occupations it is a great tool.  A clear example of such an occupation is technical support.

The people that are responsible for providing technical support of just about any type spend a  large slice of their time moving around in the office or other company premises and having a 700 grams, instant on computer that can access the company’s system’s through a regular wi-fi connection of through a VPN over 3G is clearly a great advantage.   The same applicability seems to have been clear to most health professionals, almost from day one.

With the release of iOS 4.2 for iPad in November, Apple will be adding a feature to the iPad which is specially interesting for business users: the ability to print directly from the device.  This is something that a lot of people have been asking for a long time.  Coupled with the ability to better manage the applications on the device and the ability to quickly switch tasks this will make the iPad even more attractive as an all around desktop or notebook computer replacement.

Just how good is an iPad as a general computer replacement?  Obviously it depends a lot on what you do with most of your time on a computer.   In my case I moved most of my activities to the iPad.  I use it for 90% of my browsing, 90% of my email and Twitter and pretty much 100% of my Facebook usage.  When don’t I use the iPad for email and Twitter?  When I’m already using another computer to accomplish a task I haven’t moved to the iPad yet, such as writing blog posts.

Make no mistake, I do all the reading, research and notes for the blog posts on the iPad, but I prefer to use my MacBook to sit down and actually write my posts and for doing all my image handling. I haven’t yet used the iPad to create a presentation, but I have used it to share some slides with one or two people.

While I still wouldn’t recommend the iPad as anyone’s single computer, specially as Apple goes out of its way to tie it up to a regular computer and iTunes, I consider it the best option for carrying around with you all day, going into meeting and moving around the office.  I also think it is the  best computer to carry on short trips.

I have surprised my self with just how many PDF’s I’m actually reading instead of just saving them for reading at a future opportunity that never comes.  Being able to read the PDFs while just sitting on the sofa or reclining in bed without the weight and heat of a notebook on my lad has proven to be be a huge improvement and incentive to go through all that material.

There is already a large number of applications which are specifically geared towards business use such as Apple’s productivity tools and those of the Omni Group.  Those are  a few of the better known examples. I’ve run across several other interesting apps such as iMockup for iPad which helps you sketch application interfaces on the iPad and Manuscript which is geared towards writers.  While both of these applications are still in their first iterations they are already quite interesting. Both of these applications were designed with professional activities in mind.

As more applications that focus on business activities, more the attractive the iPad becomes to business users.  Up this point, the handfull of potential competitors that have come out to challenge the iPad in the tablet space seem highly unlikely to present a competitive threat in the Enterprise space.  In this space the only company that might be up to the task of challenging Apple is HP.  Wether or not it will live up to the expectations created with the acquisition of Palm and its webOS mobile OS is still in the air.

99 year old lady becomes an iPad user – writes poetry

I always considered the iPad as the best thing to come along for senior people who aren’t tech-savvy.  It just had never occured to me how senior those seniors could really be and still make good use of the iPad.

An incredible video has been posted on YouTube showing a 99 year old lady who is using her first computer: an iPad.  The video tells that she has read two books and written 12 limericks with the iPad.   I’ve embedded the video below so that you can see for yourselves.

I have to say that seeing this woman being able to enrich her life and engage in creative endeavors left me with my eyes moist. Regardless of what anyone may wish to complain about the iPad: USB ports, camera, it doesn’t have flash… This is what it is all about… Simplicity!

UPDATE: This story has been picked up by Fox12 Oregon and they have their own video with an interview with our 99 year old lady, Virginia. The interview is really interesting to watch as well.

Apple sold over 14 million iPads in 2010

Apple reported sales of  7.3 million iPads in the last quarter of calendar year 2010, corresponding to the company’s first quarter in the 2011 fiscal year.  If you add this number to the 7.5 million iPads the company had sold in the previous two quarters you get an astounding 14.8 million iPads sold in just 9 months.

This number easily exceeds the 13.5 million of the highest analyst predictions for iPad sales in 2010.  Most analysts had been pointing towards 6 to 8 million units sold in 2010, until Apple announced that it had already sold 7.5 million units in the first two quarters of sales.  During this quarter the iPad outpaced the Mac by far in units sold and represented a business of about 4.6 billion dollars for the company.  The Mac represents a larger share of Apple’s revenue as the average sales price for notebooks and desktops is much higher than that of the iPad.

While the Mac sales have been growing continuously for the past 19 quarters, sales of the iPad are growing way faster. It seems clear that iPad derived revenues will exceed those generated by regular computers in 2011.

The bookstore in a future full of iPads

I love reading books and I love shopping for them.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  I love browsing through a bookstore, but I rarely buy a paper book these days, always preferring the digital version if one is available.  This duality of feelings and the certainty of the inevitable demise of the paper book in the future makes me a bit sad each time I go to a good bookstore.

The experience of going through the books, the quiet atmosphere and the simple joy of seeing so many colorful covers that represent books you haven’t yet read is an experience I am in no hurry to loose.  I am, however, already mourning its loss for my son’s future.

In visiting a very nice bookshop with my family last month, I ended up discussing with my wife the future of bookstores as we know them, over a nice cup of coffee. She asked me if I really thought all of that would end and I had to answer that I was certain of it.  I remember asking her to look around and to think how we could justify all those dead trees at a time when our planet needs every last one of them and when an alternative such as the iPad is readily available.  To that she reminded me that the iPad was not really inexpensive, a point I had to concede. That, however, is only temporary.

An iPod Touch, basic model, costs today half of what the original iPod cost when it was first introduced in 2001.  In fact, the top of the line 64GB iPod Touch costs exactly the same amount  – $399 – as the that original iPod cost, which is just $100 less than the base iPad model.  Time works inexorably against the paper book.  In a few years time we will have cheaper iPads, as well as more powerful models which will dwarf what the current generation devices can do.  The basic act of reading a book on the iPad will probably change very little, just as the iPad plays music in pretty much the same way the first iPod did, but they will be more accessible to everyone.

The convenience of being able to buy books where ever you are and have them instantly available for reading beats having to go to a bookstore any day.  That goes for online purchases of paper books as well.  Why would you want to go online, order a book and then wait a couple of days for it to arrive?  All the fantasizing about how wonderful an experience it is to hold a book in your hands is merely wishful thinking on the part of those that make a living from traditional publishing and are afraid of change or those who are averse to technology in general.

Try holding a book such as “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” on your lap for a while to read it and come back and tell me just how wonderful an experience it was.  Let’s get real about this, reading such a volume on an iPad (or even a Kindle for that matter) beats the hell out of holding a volume that weighs several kilos.

So, now that I have gone ahead and killed the paper book for the thousandth time, how can I keep my bookstores?  Well, the idea was actually given to me by a friend while we were browsing through a huge bookstore during a trip to São Paulo, Brazil.  We were wondering through the bookshelves and he commented that he should be able to approach his eBook reader of the paper book on the shelf and have it immediately identified.  Once that happened he would have the pricing and the option to buy it, immediately downloading onto his device.

I just stood there with thoughts running through my head.  It hit me that a bookstore, with real paper books, makes a wonderful display to let people get to know about what books are available.  It also occurred to me that if actual sales were digital a bookstore could carry a much larger number of titles as it would not need to carry a large inventory of bestsellers.  All that would be needed of each book would be a couple of units to be on display.

Oddly, having those printed books to display gives a purpose for bookstores to exist, as they would continue to provide a valuable service as a venue to get titles in front of readers. They also give a bit of purpose to publishers as they would provide a value added service of getting those volumes printed and distributed to the bookstores.  This doesn’t sound much different than what we have today, however, there is a world of difference between having printed books that are for show and having them for actual sale.

In the scenario I describe, bookstores continue to be nice places you visit to get to know about new books that have been released and perhaps to peruse a title while sipping a nice cup of coffee.  It’s a place where you take your kids to choose new books or where you go to pass some time before a meeting in a welcoming environment, it’s not a place where you need to go to get a book. You go there because you like doing so.

Of course, such a scenario is only an idealized concept, which might not be remotely viable financially.  However, even if it were viable it would require publishers to stop being dragged around by the nose by companies such as Amazon and Apple and start taking charge of where their business is going.

In a world were most people have access to a personal device which allows immediate purchase and reading of titles, trying to to stay attached to a model that forces people to go somewhere or to wait  to get a book is certainty of failure.   Make no mistake, this world is coming and it isn’t even too far away.  Anyone that wishes to ignore this had better be very close to retiring.

The new AppleTV might turn into an iPad accessory

When Apple introduced the new Apple TV yesterday, I thought that regardless of how interesting the device can be by itself, it will really shine as an iPad accessory.  The new $99 price tag helps to position the Apple TV into the accessory category as it is just about 20%  of the price of the most inexpensive iPad model.

Why would the Apple TV complement the iPad so well?  The iPad is an intrinsically personal device, but sometimes you want to watch a movie with great special effects on a big screen or share it with someone else.  Having the Apple TV quietly connected to your TV will help you accomplish that mighty easy, as Steve Jobs showed yesterday.

The new Apple TV is a tiny little black box that you attach to your TV through an HDMI cable.  There is also no need for a power brick, which certainly is a welcome characteristic for a device that you will keep in your living or family room.    The little box can also be used to stream videos and photos directly from the iPhone or iPod Touch as well, which can also be interesting when you are receiving or visiting friends and have got all those pictures from your recent vacation trip in your pocket iOS device of choice.

In the past, the $229 price tag of the previous generation Apple TV made it into a device that most people would stop to think, consider and make a decision to embrace it or not.  With the $99 price tag it can considered an extension to the investment that is already been made in iOS based devices such as the iPad, the iPhone or the iPod Touch.

Killing the iPad killers

Since the initial introduction of the iPad not a month has gone by without people talking up a product from this company or that as an “iPad Killer”.  The funny thing about all this iPad killing is that from reading what is written about it you would think that the iPad is an endangered species.

Recently we have begin to see first companies making real moves to bring to the market iPad competitors.  That is a good start, but there should be no need to point out that competitors are all good and nice, but they aren’t really “killers”.  Sandisk and Sony, among others, make nice music players.  None of them have been “iPod Killers”, however.

While I won’t go as far as say that the iPad will be as successful among tablets as the iPod has been among music players, right now it is even more so.  Why? Because this time around Apple got into the market first, instead of entering a highly fragmented market as was the case with the iPod.

The number of companies that seem to be planning to release tablet computers is quite significant and the fact that each is working on their own variations of the theme does not seem to indicate that iPad competitors will less “fragmented” then the iPod competitors. This can only benefit Apple to the detriment of the assortment of companies that will be facing it off against an established player with a product that has defined what for all intents and purposes is a new market.  (Yes, of course I know that there have been tablets around for over a decade, but they didn’t really represent a significant market.)

Right now, everyone seems  to betting that Android will be  the catalyst that will bring unity to the market and help balance out Apple’s head start.  There are some problems with that supposition, or hope, however.  Google itself is sending mixed signals about what strategy vendors should embrace as its CEO declares that tablets should run ChromeOS just as Samsung is releasing the first Android powered tablet that is certified to access the Android market.

That the  Galaxy Tab has been cleared to access the Android market is also odd as the conditions for a device to be certified required it to have specific screen resolutions to make sure that the phone-oriented applications would look good and work well on the device.  The Samsung Galaxy Tab does not match those resolutions, so it may an approach similar to that taken by Apple in the iPad where applications are shown in their native resolution, if they were created for the iPhone.

Other companies, in addition to Samsung are expected to bring tablets to market before the end of 2010.  These companies however must now face an even more terrible foe than the dreaded iPad, that has for these past many months dominated the market.   These companies must now face the rumor mill has already started to spin stories about the next iPad.

As Samsung, Toshiba and others work to bring their devices to market and to attract some attention to them, without even the least bit of effort from Apple, the blogosphere is already ablaze with stories about newly registered Apple patents that might represent changes in the new iPad.  Blogs, specialized press and the users on the street are already talking about what iPad 2.0 will be like.

Under these conditions, with just a few months left in 2010 and speculation stating to run wild about the new iPad, it might just turn out that the so called “iPad Killers” are the species that is really in danger of extinction living Apple to reign supreme until the second generation of “Killers” is ready for the market.   They better hurry however, before people start discussing what iPad 3.0 will be like.