I read an interesting post over at ComputerWorld this morning, titled ‘5 features the iPad needs for business‘. It was mostly interesting to me because I found myself disagreeing with a lot of it.
For instance, the first needed feature that is listed is Expandable memory. To be fair, this one probably depends a lot on the nature of your job, but it seems to me most business users should get by fine with the storage space available on the iPad, especially the largest 64GB models. It’s not intended as a desktop replacement, and given that most sensitive or critical company data should be held on network servers (in the cloud or in the company network) I would think 64GB of local storage plus an ability to access server-based documents should be more than good enough for a lot of users.
Another needed feature listed is a video camera, with video conferencing cited as one of iPad’s potentially most useful functions. I think that makes some sense, and video conferencing would certainly be a great feature – but I also recall hearing arguments for many years now that big corporates are dead set against front-facing cameras, as they’re seen as a security risk.
Multitasking is another item on the list. On this one, I think a couple of things: one is that we will very likely see an extended level of multitasking come along with OS 4.0, and the other is that what’s really needed is some slick methods to do rapid app-switching on the iPhone OS. If Apple gives us a limited ability to run a selected 3rd party apps in the background, gives the OS the ability to remember the state of apps, and gives us some elegant ways to quickly switch between apps, that should work well for business users and most typical users as well.
Alternate browsers is the last needed feature listed. This one is a strong point – as Safari does account for a very small percentage of browser use amongst all computer users, and there are a hell of a lot of sites designed for Internet Explorer and similar. Having said that, this one is easily worked around by simply using remote access to connect to a PC running IE.
In fact, remote access should work like a dream on the iPad and help to make it a very powerful device for business use for a lot of users and companies. Connecting via Terminal Services (a very common and accepted standard in many Windows-based enterprises) and working should be a pleasure given the iPad’s form factor and screen size. The iPhone OS also supports Cisco VPN to further secure remote access connections.
I do imagine that the iPad still has some security and other issues to address before it makes any big inroads in large enterprises, but I can see it having big appeal to many businesses and business users right away as well.
What do you all think? Is the iPad just a device for personal use, or should it be getting a look in businesses as well?