Business, apparently, likes the iPad. Apple’s Tim Cook reckons nearly every company (94 per cent) in the Fortune 500 is using or testing the Apple tablet. And although we’re not sure how yet, the CEO is promising to focus on “penetration in enterprise.”
To us, that seems odd. Yes, companies like to play around with iPads. If you can get your company to sign off on a fun gadget you can play with in boring meetings, why not? And the price tag of the iPad (next to other IT costs) isn’t enough to give accountants scary dreams. But is the iPad – for most people – a genuinely useful business tool?
Having tried to work on an iPad in the past, we think not. It’s a lovely bit of kit, but it’s built for – dare we use the word? – leisure. If your job involves browsing the internet a bit, scrabbling out typo-infused two-line emails and using some sort of throwing motion to make money, you’ve found the ideal portable partner. For most of us, a laptop is the better business companion.
That said, the growing processing power of the iPad, coupled with better accessories to overcome basic tablet shortfalls (lack of keyboard, for example) is closing the gap between Apple’s rectangle and a low-spec laptop or netbook.
Throw in increasingly mighty stack of powerful, inexpensive apps – that can handle anything from video editing (iMovie) to quite advanced image manipulation (Photoshop Touch) – and you can see why Tim Cook calls the iPad “the most broad-based product I've seen in my entire career in terms of enterprise adoption.”
But let’s come back to Earth. The iPad is a consumer gadget, not a business tool. The reason every company worth its revenue report is testing iPads is because making whatever service or product you sell look shiny and fun on a tablet is a good way to make next quarter’s revenue report look better. Heck, it’s working for Apple.