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Entries in Steve Jobs (2)


Can Form Meet Function – What to do with an iPad

I had dinner with a friend, last night, and he was very excited to show me his iPad. I told him we had purchased one a while ago but still couldn’t determine a good, practical use for it. He said he does a lot with it and proceeded to show me a slide show from a recent trip. While the slides were interesting, I continue to come back to the question of how to use the iPad in the corporate environment.

 At a recent Desktop Strategy seminar we held in Boston for six leading financial services institutions; we surveyed the group as to their plans for the iPad within their organization. Everyone agreed the iPad was going to be a great “consumption” device for senior managers. They were excited about replacing laptops with iPads for this group of users.

Having never heard of a consumption device, I probed and discovered many senior executives simply spend their time reading reports and emails. The output of this process is short emails in response to what they have reviewed. Applications used by this group are all web-based and not data entry intensive.

I can easily see the iPad used as a consumption device. I can also see a new breed of application written to facilitate using the iPad in this capacity. Think about Facebook and the ability to click on a thumbs-up to indicate you like something. Highly productive and delivers a message that is “pithy and succinct.” Besides a consumption device, maybe the iPad becomes an annotation device.

With these two functions, is it possible the iPad, with some well designed applications, could reduce the glut of email we receive every day? Granted, it would simply transfer to other applications, but at least it would get it out of our mailboxes. If this can be done then the “killer app” might be the one that gets the documents and comments out of email.

As time goes by, and I speak to more people, a new vision of the iPad is beginning to emerge. Stay tuned as I continue my quest for the best use the iPad (and no, it’s not the level application).


Why Apple WINS

My coworkers like to gently rib me about my newfound appreciation for all things Mac.  It’s fun and I enjoy the teasing especially because I’m so often reminded of why Macs and other Apple products are so popular.  Here’s the most recent occasion.

Windows is obviously the OS of the business world and in some ways Macs still can’t quite cut it in the office, so I recently found myself buying Windows 7 Professional. Despite the $300 price tag I was excited to install it (yes, on my Mac via “Parallels”) and found the process simple.  Now, Window’s needs to be protected from evil people who write viruses so bundled with it comes antivirus software – I mean a “Security Suite.”  I don’t wish to slander the famous man (who perfected the smug, arms crossed, “I Have What You Need” look) or company producing this software so instead of calling it by name I’ll refer to it as “Trixie.”

I’m quite sure Trixie is a capable and invaluable product but like most things Windows it is often a royal pain in the backside.   Yes, I want to know I am “protected.”  Yes, I appreciate being told (constantly) Trixie is running in the background (continuously!).  YES, thank you Trixie for cleaning up those temp files where God knows what evil may lurk.  Of course, thank you, dear friend Trixie, for being ever present and in my face about every little thing you do for me and for slowing down my machine as you do it.  I realize I can ask my guardian Trixie to be less intrusive or obvious but have you actually tried to do it?  The point is I shouldn’t have to, it should just come that way.  

Trixie, Microsoft and many Windows-related products don’t understand many technologies should be ubiquitous and invisible.  Apple gets this hugely important notion and that’s why people who are new to Macs say they are so easy to use.  Think about your corporate network—or any network.  Good ones are just there and work.  They don’t tell me about how they are forwarding my packets or travelling long distances at light speed just to deliver my information, they just do what they are supposed to do.  Printing is another example (ok, except when the printer is jammed or out of paper).  I appreciate how powerful Windows tools can be but they should just work and not haunt me about every little thing they are doing.  It seems to remain important and relevant (read: something someone will pay for) Microsoft and its pals must make sure you know their software is there working its little kernel off.  So they tell you.  Constantly.

If all the meany virus authors got together and decided I’m sure they could cause serious problems for Macs, necessitating more significant “Security Suite” software to save us.  However, I’m equally sure Apple and its partner vendors would figure out how to do it with behind-the-scenes elegance that just works and doesn’t have to tell me about it all the time.  They get what Microsoft still doesn’t.

This post was prepared by Charles Kling, Associate Partner at Harvard Partners.

He can be reached on his Mac at charles.kling@harvardpartners.com