It doesn’t take many brain cells to realize that iPad has shown strong interest for business adoption since, well – a few minutes after it began to arrive on doorsteps across America. Many of the first adopters were perched on those doorsteps waiting impatiently like an eager puppy, wagging its tail at the first sign of a UPS truck, or really — anything in the neighborhood that moved.

But the evidence that this product may become a defacto-business tool is mounting rapidly. Even slightly nutty folks like Paul (see Paul’s iPad) are stress-testing iPad purely for business use without any safety net. A full-on adoption of iPad as his sole business computer – interesting test.

A new survey of wireless device users has found that the top intended use for Apple‘s forthcoming iPad is getting work done while on the road, suggesting the multimedia device could serve as a netbook replacement for many consumers. – Apple Insider

The survey was conducted by Zogby International who surveyed 2,443 adults with a mobile phone, 770 of which own smartphones. Reportedly, more than half the respondents (52.3%) said they are very likely to use a tablet device, such as the iPad, to do work. 75% of smartphone users indicated a belief that devices like the iPad will make them more productive at work.

Until a significant number of tablet users exist, we can only make generalizations about perceived productivity and business benefit. But if you think all tablets are capable of achieving the experience of using an iPad, consider iPad’s Killer App.

iPad is a consumer product, right?

Um, yeah – but Apple knows that a significant percentage of consumers are business people, and like iPhone, whether it’s marketed as a business tool or not, it will be used in business if business people find value and utility.

What we often forget is that people, consumers and workers from all walks of life, hire products to do jobs just as they hire people to jobs.

If a business person could hire a rubber ducky to perform a task or do something faster, he would. So let’s get serious and measure the iPad based on its potential to provide business utility.

Utility Value

Utility value comes in many forms; reduced effort, which is usually accompanied with a time-centric benefit, is one of the more common ways consumers subliminally measure utility value. Another is performance; if a product performs the same task you can do yourself, but with greater precision, you may find significant utility value. I really get excited about products that simplify my life. Anything that can eliminate steps, things, or worry to help me streamline operations has killer utility value.

Here are three examples where iPad provides utility value. It’s important to point out that these are utility values that matter to me and in the context of my business. If you give it some thought, you’ll probably find similar ones and you may also find these examples to be relevant to your own values, or you may discover that iPad has no utility value.


I’ve never really liked Keynote until I experienced the way Apple blended presentation features that were previously separate and distinct product solutions. I’ve carried a laser pointer since they were invented. With Keynote and iPad, the laser pointer is integral to the design. I don’t need a separate device; I don’t need batteries for it, and I’ll be safer now that I can’t accidentally blind myself while digging through my notebook bag.

This feature is far from perfect; the iPad display should mimic what’s on the VGA screen.

Mobile Work Environment

I’ve owned a laptop since before they could sit on your lap or were even called laptops. I co-created LapLink in the early 80’s, so I’ve been a mobile geek for nearly as long as the Space Shuttle has been flying. I take my mobile work environment serious and until now, I’ve spent countless hours trying to maintain a synchronized Windows (or Mac) desktop road-ready equivalent that can be deployed at a moments notice.

iPad and its synching and app management approach eliminates much of the tedium and time-consuming tasks required of notebooks and even heavily-dependant OS netbooks. Sure, I spend a little more time trying to overcome the many document access and sharing challenges that exist without a file system, but the net gain is significant; I no longer deal with the never-ending maintenance and management of a full-blown portable PC or Macbook.

Knowledge Management

Managing “stuff”, clips, URLs, things to do, notes, loose ends, and all those little things that clutter the desk and never seem to be available when you need them most, can be effectively managed with iPad and a personalized collection of apps.

iPhone chipped away at many of these challenges with apps such as Evernote, Gist,, Jott, and Things. But iPhone didn’t provide enough visual work space to accommodate the full breadth of the tasks surrounding this activity. iPad has allowed me to get more organized and deal with “stuff” more effectively not because of a single app or the device itself – rather, it provides an environment that is very quick to respond to a variety of tasks and see each task through to completion.

When you discover a new business card in your pocket and you want to capture the details or make notes about the person or company, there’s far too much friction if you try to manage this artifact with a notebook. iPhone can handle the basics – maybe you’ll take a picture of the card, perhaps you’ll capture the contact info. But iPad is instantly available to look at this person’s website, add the contact, and compose a quality email far faster and with greater agility than the alternatives. I can perform all these tasks with iPhone, a Macbook, or a desktop, but the mobile context and the nature of the tasks seem to require more of what iPad and less of what other products offer.

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