It’s only been a few months since the iPad’s April debut, but Apple’s latest light-weight cordless gadget has — for most — lived up to its expectations. Sans keyboard and mouse, the iPad offers a versatile online experience through a 9.7-inch glossy touch screen. You can search the Web instantly, pull up maps that are clearer and crisper than a paper printout, listen to music, read endless amounts of books and magazines, and access many more apps with the touch of one button.
If you own an iPhone and love it, the iPad could be a new favorite, as it is much easier on the eyes and extremely simple to navigate. Even if you are not familiar with the iPhone, the iPad may have you saying “can’t leave home without it,” due to its relatively small size (weighing in at only a pound and a half), slim shape and useful applications.
And, several months later, the iPad continues surpassing demand expectations. With such a tough economy, it seems surprising that people are finding an extra $500 to splurge on a device that is not a necessity. But could it actually be the future of business communications or a corporate norm? We spoke with Pendleton C. Waugh, vice president and co-founder of Phoenix-based Smartcomm, a company dedicated to offering opportunities in the wireless industry, to find out his thoughts on this new device and the implications it has on business users.
How do you see the iPad helping with business uses?
Well, Apple sells all the applications you would normally use on a computer for work, like Word, Excel, even PowerPoint. You can just add those apps. And if you don’t like using the touch screen, you can hook an extra keyboard to your iPad and type away.
What application do you find the most helpful for work, currently?
I like the note taking application. It replaces paper. I can just type up my notes, and then e-mail them to myself or to anyone else — and there you go.
So no more paper and pens for your meetings?
No, I don’t need them. I take the iPad into all my meetings and type away. I did recently add an extended keyboard, but up to now I’ve just been using the touch screen. You just tap on the letters; it’s very easy and user friendly — much like the iPhone interface.
Do you see the iPad complementing or replacing a laptop or computer at work?
The iPad is going to be your computer at work. But it won’t replace your desktop or laptop. Your desk computer will remain at your desk while you’re in the office, but the idea of “desk jobs” is rapidly disappearing. Your iPad will be your PC, so you can work from it wherever you are, and then your desktop will be your server to access any information. We’re going wireless. According to SNL Kagan, a financial information firm that collects, standardizes and distributes corporate, financial, market and M&A data, about 80 percent of households will be wireless within 10 years. If you want to see the future of businesses and communications, walk into an Apple store. There’s the future.
What kind of industries would find the iPad useful?
The iPad provides a more effective way of storing, organizing, using and retrieving information. There are a lot of people who didn’t realize the iPad was going to be a big hit and still don’t think it is. But it is revolutionizing our communication standards, going from voice data to video. We are using smart devices that keep getting faster and more efficient, just like Gordon E. Moore (Intel co-founder) predicted in what we now know as Moore’s Law. So many capabilities of computers are linked back to this law, from processing speed, memory capacity, sensors, and even the number of pixels on a camera. The iPad can help industries communicate more efficiently.
The iPad is supposed to be great for streaming video, but video quality is low With the YouTube application.
It might have something to do with the network. For example, even though I have access to Wi-Fi, I’m using AT&T’s 3-G network. It’s possible that the network doesn’t have enough bandwidth to play the video clearly, but I’m not sure. When you use an iPad, it sucks up bandwidth like there’s no tomorrow.
What are some other observations?
The iPad has definitely been a positive experience for the principals in our company in changing how we approach work scenarios. It beats taking notes on paper or the occasional napkin, and allows the ability to instantly e-mail anything typed up on the electronic tablet. The iPad is travel-friendly and uncomplicated to use. The price is reasonable. It’s not cheap, but it won’t break the bank, and the general consensus, from other media reviews, is that it’s worth the money.