If you look past the inevitable consumer lust for anything new and Apple shaped, does the iPad actually live up to the hype? I've already made my own feelings on why the iPad will be no game changer (at least not in version one form) quite clear, although the chances are high that I'll end up buying one as I'm pretty much the target market. Early adopting tech consumer with more money than sense. Business buyers, on the other hand, should not get caught up in the hype over the iPad because according to tablet PC manufacturer Motion Computing it is "seriously lacking in business features".
The company is the first to admit that the Windows-based tablet revolution has been a quiet one, with little consumer marketing, but such devices have become critical hardware within industries such as health care, construction and field service nonetheless. Nigel Owens, a Vice President at Motion Computing, says "There is a lot of customisation and support needed to sell effectively to hospitals. You need the right form factor, the right cases, the right docks and/or carts, the ability to disinfect the tablet and integrate it with electronic medical records. The iPad’s touchscreen is also too fragile for construction sites or the day-to-day abuse of hospital settings".
But wait, there is more: "Apple’s iPad uses the finger-based touch of the iPhone. While fine for viewing Web sites, watching movies and exploring music collections, it falls flat for more business-oriented tasks. A finger is inherently imprecise. Look at a spreadsheet - can you imagine trying to drag a cell from one place to another?" Nigel says, adding "Or take nurses using tablets to fill out complicated patient admission forms filled with tiny fields - they’ll prefer stylus-based tablets like Motion’s. So will construction foremen wearing gloves or sporting dirty, greasy hands".
Surely, though, these are rather specialist markets and not ones that Apple is looking at breaking into with the iPad. It's a consumer device, a big gadget, through and through. You might even say that Motion Computing is not comparing Apple with apples.
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This is very much the point I made to the PR who sent me the same comments this morning. He said he'd spoken to a number of app developers who were interested in putting business software onto the iPad.
Depends upon the nature of the business and the type of software, I can imagine any number of scenarios where the iPad and niche business will be a good match (have a chat with Jon Honeyball if you want a huge list of likely looking business applications) - but for anyone to base an argument on why the iPad will fail around markets it has no intention of trying to enter is truly bizarre.