Before I get too far into this post there are two things that I must disclose.
- I’m a PC
- I have not been one of the lucky bloggers out there that has received a free iPad to review, so I have never actually played around with one.
As of right now I have no intention of buying an iPad. That’s not to say I will never own one or that I am not interested in trying it out, but the fact of the matter is that despite all the great toys that Apple makes, they still don’t like to share with the other kids. I simply don’t like the idea of being in technology lockdown. Apple holds strong to its closed proprietary control over all things Apple. This has been slightly improved with third party apps, but again your app’s fate is still left to Apple to decide. The more popular Apple devices become, the more and more I hear “I would love to not use Apple but the iPod/(iPhone) is the best portable media device/(phone) available.” So, in exchange for locking you in, Apple has been able to connect with consumers on a whole new level and create some of the best user experiences. But that doesn’t mean I like being locked in.
Will the iPad be a technology hit and another win for Mr. Jobs? I don’t know. Weak prediction, I know. Yet I do think that this is a big step forward as far as how we, the consumers, want to access technology. One need only to look at the growing number of internet capable devices. Facebook’s popularity has surpassed Google and porn. Conversations are starting with “Do you follow <insert screen name here>?” Clearly we want to be “connected” and smart phones and netbooks have given us this ability. We have opened Pandora ’s Box wirelessly and there is no going back.
If you have yet to use an iPhone or iTouch you don’t know what you’re missing. Multi-touch interaction is awesome. Now some of you out there are saying, “My smart phone with Windows mobile has a touch screen, so what?” To which I say, “Would you rather drive a Ferrari or a Kia on the autobahn?” (side note: this is not to say that Kia does not make a fine automobile, it’s just…it’s a frakin’ Ferrari people!). The secret sauce is the user experience. It’s simple, it’s clear, it’s easy, some might even argue that it is dumbed down a bit, but most of all it’s fun to use. Video sharing on YouTube, Facebook status changes, Twitter updates, ESPN RSS feeds, or just surfing Craigslist are just some of the ways end users are trying to add fun to their boring workday. Fun sells!
Then there is the growing remote workforce. It is becoming less and less necessary for employers to provide a physical workstation to its employees. Companies like Citrix are starting to move to a BYOC (Bring Your Own Computer) program and simply provide a remote desktop to its users (read more of the blog or contact us to learn how this is done). More and more, the hardware we use for work is becoming the device we use for personal stuff. The line is getting blurred and devices that are coming out today need to be able to bring our work and personal lives together on a single device.
I am all for trying to keep the two separate and maintain a healthy balance between them, yet this is the exact reason they should be on the same device. Access your files from the gym or local coffee shop. Update your Twitter feed or look at family pictures on a cross country business trip. As the business world becomes smaller it is becoming difficult for us to disconnect from our jobs even while driving (and please use a hands free device if you do indeed do business from your car – and for your children’s sake, lay off the email and text messaging…a big traffic ticket is the least you’re risking).
Unfortunately, as consumers are becoming connected and getting used to doing business from anywhere, it forces businesses, and therefore their employees, to be on call. The demand for quick response has grown as more and more information is available to anyone, anytime, and at their finger tips. There is no longer a gatekeeper to information. If you are trying to grow your business and be a leader while still maintaining a nine to five model, you are fighting a losing battle. We already see how individuals have started to embrace the always-on mentality. They have found the freedom to work when and where they want while accomplishing their own personal goals. (This of course is not an overnight switch and there will always be jobs that will never be able to offer this offsite option.)
So the biggest news to me is not the iPad release but rather the shift in what consumers want/expect from technology and the fact that we are getting closer to that. Always connected, easy to use, and can help me work and play from anywhere. The iPad’s fate is one that time will tell but I don’t really see its business application so I’ll pass for now. (And, yes, I know that you can run the Citrix Receiver on your iPad and connect to a XenDesktop or XenApp farm. But you can also do that from a netbook that can also do stuff that today’s iPad can’t do.)