Photo: Larissa Herbst / Flickr
OK, I admit it. I am an Apple fanboy.I bought my first PowerMac back in the late 1990s, and never looked back. Since then, mostly for business purposes, I have owned Powerbooks, MacBook Pros, another PowerMac, MacBook Airs, iPods, iPhones, Mighty Mouses (or is it mice??), Apple TVs, and recently, multiple iPads.
Employees at the Apple store smile when I walk in, for they must see that I have “impulse buyer” written all over my face. Several years back, after one particularly hefty purchase at the store in D.C., I was even rewarded with one of the black genius bar t-shirts.
I suppose they felt sorry for me after dropping so much coin, but with the coveted t-shirt in hand I knew that I had arrived as an Apple aficionado.
For the most part, my experience with Apple has been wonderful. The Mac computers are unbeatable, and the iPhone is a near perfect device (yes, even the iPhone 4).
There is something about the feel and functionality of all the Apple gadgets that lets me instantly recognise how they will improve the way I work. That just hasn’t been the case with the iPad.
First, let me say that I REALLY wanted an iPad before they came out. When Steve Jobs demonstrated the svelte slab of computer wizardry during his keynote speech in January 2010, I couldn’t wait.
Several months later, I was one of the uber-geeks standing outside the local Best Buy waiting impatiently for the store to open up. I scored one of the 32GB Wi-Fi models that day and took it home with great anticipation.
I knew it was going to be technological bliss. After two weeks of downloading apps, however, I was left with a feeling of emptiness and loss.
What was it that I was supposed to be able to do with this that I couldn’t with my iPhone? Oh yes, it’s the screen. Yes the screen. It’s bigger. Ahh. But does a bigger screen really justify the expense and hassle of carrying another device?
Well, I could read books with it. Yes, that’s pretty cool, but I didn’t feel comfortable taking it out on the beach where I do most of my reading. But it’s a great presentation tool for business.
Yes, Keynote is pretty cool, but it lacks functionality on the iPad, and without the adaptor and a projector, the screen is just too small to do anything except a one-on-one briefing.
So, realising that I purchased the iPad for business, I came to the conclusion that what I really needed was a Wi-Fi/3G model. I promptly sold the 32GB Wi-Fi on eBay for a nice $120 profit and ordered a 32GB Wi-Fi/3G model the same day. I just knew that the added mobility offered by the 3G service would really change things and bring me to mobile nirvana. It had to.
Four weeks later, I was left with the same confused feeling that I had with the Wi-Fi model. Just why in the hell did I need an iPad? One week later, I had made another eBay sale, this time racking up a nice $300 profit. I was done.
It’s been over a year though, and I find myself slipping by the Apple kiosk at the very same Best Buy where I purchased the first model, eyeballing the iPad 2. Sadly, perhaps pathetically, I am seriously thinking about buying another one. This time, however, I am going in to the relationship with my eyes wide open.
No more lies, deceptions, or false promises. I think I now know what the iPad is, at least for me, and what it will eventually become. In simple terms, it’s an entertainment device, and at this stage, despite the plethora of productivity apps that have come out since it was first released, not much more.
It has huge potential as a tool for marketers and sales professionals, but only in specific circumstances. I will not be downloading a ton of apps like I do with my iPhone, simply because the iPad’s killer app isn’t an “app” at all; it’s the device’s portability and connectivity.
Someday, someone might write applications that will transform the iPad into a killer business tool. For me, it would be a mobile version of Adobe’s Creative Suite but that probably won’t happen soon. Writing a long business report is out, and creating Keynote presentations on an iPad from scratch will almost never happen in my world.
As far as Numbers goes, I am sorry but it just can’t compete with Excel. That said, for now, I think I am OK with the iPad being a good eReader, a great machine for watching video and sharing pictures, and a pretty good device for sending and receiving email, and surfing the web. The remote desktop apps are handy, and the new Facebook app looks really cool.
So, in the end, like a parent who becomes disappointed with a child’s errant behaviour, I still think the iPad and I will have a bright future together, now that we each know what the other can put into the relationship. If it doesn’t work out, well, there’s always eBay.