Many reviewers and individuals assert that iPad is “just a device” is very accurate. But this simple statement fails to point out that it is a device that can be shaped into many things including many special purpose business activities.
Anyone who takes on the question of usefulness for a device that possesses no specific behavioral context until an app is loaded, also has the responsibility to explain and explore this subtle detail very carefully.
Consider the fact that purely on its design merits, iPad can be disinfected for use near patients. Because it has no gaping seams and it’s really just two pieces of glass and metal, it can be wiped down very easily and accompany medical staff as they move from patient to patient. Few mobile devices can make this claim. This is an attribute of the device, not of the capacity of the device to provide an experience in the context of medical care.
Assessing iPad without context results in an incomplete version of reality concerning this product.
Case in point – I create about 10,000 words of content every day using iPad and I’m able to do so not because of any specific capability of the device. Rather, my use as a content creation tool is based on an app that blends well with the device to provide very accurate voice-to-text speech recognition. Imagine a doctor using voice recognition to make notes in medical records. Those who assert iPad’s inability to generate content are fundamentally out of touch (pun intended).
This medical scenario is an example of a fully contextualized evaluation – the hypothesis that iPad is an ideal tool for doctors visiting patients in hospital rooms. As it turns out, iPad is an ideal device for this role when coupled with a specific ability to capture voice and transform it to textual notes and perhaps a deep integration with EMR (electronic medical records).
In my view, assessing the value of iPad without a context is fundamentally a meaningless exercise because it fails to consider a comprehensive opportunity assessment. Suggesting that iPad is mostly (or only) useful for content consumption for consumers also implies that a significant bias is in play – i.e., users who are consumers and apps that display or access content.