Will the iPad Replace Your Desktop?

When I first got my iPad, I didn't realize how much it would change how I went about my daily life. In addition to my role as iPhone Life magazine's Enterprise Editor, I'm also the Chief Mobile Architect at a management and IT consulting firm where I spend most of my time helping our clients develop strategies and architectures for both internal and external mobile solutions.

Given that I've spent my entire career in the mobile software arena, it isn't surprising that I always get the latest gadgets. What has taken me by surprise is not only how much the iPad has changed how I interact with technology, but also how much it has changed the daily lives of people around me with much more mainstream tech adoption habits.

At both my home office and my office at work, I have identical workstations consisting of three 26" monitors (with Macs on the left and PCs on the right). Now that I have an iPad, I find that when leisurely browsing the Web, sorting through e-mails, or reading articles, it's actually more convenient and comfortable to simply lean back in my chair and ignore my desktop altogether. This has actually been quite surprising, considering how much time and energy I've spent over the years perfecting my "ideal workstation." The time I spend working on my desktop computers has been reduced from anywhere between 4 to 12 hours a day to around 20 to 30 minutes a day.

Presentations reinvigorated

In addition to almost daily presentations to clients and prospects, I also do a fair amount of public speaking at industry conferences and seminars. For the last several presentations I have given at conferences, I've been able to create my entire deck and present the content all from my iPad. At first I found it a bit "kludgy," but now that I have created about a dozen different presentations on my iPad, I feel like it's the perfect medium to ideate and iterate through visual concepts. I also feel that this has somehow helped me to increase the quality of my presentations by focusing on picture, video clip, diagram, or just a few words, as opposed to the bulleted lists of content that most PowerPoint presentations have become.

I've discovered that even when I'm not planning on giving a formal presentation, the iPad can be a great tool for conveying information. If I start discussing a concept that can be more easily communicated with a diagram or a short video clip, I'll simply whip out my iPad, swipe to the presentation deck with the appropriate content, flip to the right slide, and display it in full screen presentation mode. I can accomplish that entire process in under ten seconds. As long as I can continue talking while launching the presentation, it comes off very seamlessly. I've discovered this to be particularly true about lunch meetings. You would never plan on giving a presentation over salads or sandwiches, but if something comes up that can be communicated more effectively visually, the iPad is quite a powerful tool.

Another sign of things to come is that I've now been to at least two other companies where they keep a spare iPad-to-VGA adapter in their conference room. I'm planning on doing a presentation to more than one or two other people, I'll always jam my own adapter into my pocket.

Laptops stay in their cases

Pre-iPad, all of my mobile computing needs were fulfilled through a combination of the iPhone and laptop. In fact, in addition to a laptop that I stored in its carrying case for easy and rapid mobility, I used to have a separate laptop for almost every room in my house. Not only have all but one of those been turned off and put into storage, even my wife's laptop has been living in a drawer since she took my first iPad—and I had to go off and get a second one.

There are still things that you need Windows or the full Mac OS X to accomplish. Through a combination of remote desktop and VNC tools, I can connect to any of my Mac or Windows PCs right from my iPad to run apps like Microsoft Office 2010 or Visual Studio. I even created a dedicated virtual computer to connect to from my iPad in order to run the software that I can't yet use directly on the iPad. Combine a remote desktop on your iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard, and you've basically got a full-blown Windows machine living in your iPad.

Travel light with an iPad

The iPad has also allowed me to travel quite a bit lighter. For the last several trips for clients and conferences, I went sans-laptop. For quick day trips, all I now carry is an iPhone in my pocket and my iPad in a case under my arm. I have tried several iPad cases, and although I don't love its texture, the practical functionality of the Apple portfolio case is unmatched in my opinion. It feels incredibly empowering to be able to walk through the airport knowing that you still have the ability to do everything you could with your laptop, without all the heavy cases, power adapters, extra batteries, and assorted accessories. With a battery that truly lasts all day, I'm careful to fully charge it every night, and I've only run below 10% two times.

Business with the iPad

As I work with companies who are looking to both extend applications and functionality to their customers as well as empower their internal workers with effective mobile tools, the iPad is having a much greater impact than any other single technology product I've ever observed in my career. Professionals, like attorneys, physicians, executives, and sales people, are adopting the iPad and becoming significantly more mobile and productive. And, unlike much of the smartphone revolution that was left up to employees to drive, even mainstream FORTUNE 500 companies are seeing the benefits and are developing applications that truly realize the potential of the iPad. It will be very exciting to watch and observe the evolution of the iPad's role in the months and years to come!

Attorneys, phycisians, executives, sales people, and more are adopting the ipad
Sept/Oct 2010
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