Why I Bought an iPad

clip_image002Less than year ago, before the iPad had actually been released, I wrote about why I would not be buying one. Of course I wanted one, but the problem with spending someone else’s money is that you can’t give into compulsive shopping behavior patterns or marketing hype – there has to be a reason. Good reasons include: “we need the technology” – we don’t; “this is a solid trend and now is the time to get on board” – it might be, and it might be; “it will save us money” – hmmmm. At first, I didn’t think there was any way an iPad could save us money but now I think it can.

Most of the people that my department supports are currently working off of laptops. We buy some of them laptops so they can work at home and we buy some of them laptops because they travel. We don’t just buy them a laptop; we buy a docking port, an extra A/C adapter, monitor, keyboard and mouse. For most of the traveling folks, we spend a bit more to get them a powerful, yet lightweight laptop. It is numerically possible to buy those people a desktop PC and an iPad for slightly less than a laptop. I am not talking about windfall savings, but a savings nonetheless. Even a small savings, coupled with the other benefits that an iPad brings to the equation, could swing this decision. What other benefits?

It’s Cool – Usually, “it’s cool” is not a good reason, but in this case, that translates into the fact that I am giving my users something they think is cool. That’s huge, and in the IT world, that rarely happens. I have made a career giving my users things that let them work longer hours, from distant places and stay in touch with people they might otherwise enjoy a break from. On top of that, they have to lug most of those things through the airport and on the plane with them. Last time I checked, iPads, go through security without having to be removed from your bag.

It’s Secure – Oh, I am sure someone will eventually find a way to make Apple regret allowing even the hint of Flash-based apps on the iPad, but even with that threat looming, the iPad is way more secure than a laptop. Security is two benefits in one. First, the traveler is less likely to be rendered incapable of using the device while on the road. Second, and more importantly, we don’t have to repair the unit upon its return or diagnose and repair on the road.

Likes and Dislikes – I did buy an iPad, so I could research these possibilities, and so far, I like what I see. I think it will work for many of my traveling users, but it won’t work for all of them and I’m not sure it works for me. It works for the people who are tied to email and who need to read documents, see the results of spreadsheets and review presentations. The people that actually have to write, edit and prepare those documents are going to want a laptop. Documents to Go is decent, but it doesn’t connect to SharePoint (or even Office Live for reasons I don’t understand) so there is at least a three-app process involved to create/edit and share. A three app combo on the iPad is like a three-cushion bank shot in pool, it’s unlikely most people are going to bother to make the attempt.

As for me, I can connect to our Internet facing SharePoint site, and I can use VPN to connect to our internal site. I can create documents, store them locally, use an app to upload them to SharePoint, use a SharePoint service to turn them into a PDF and… well, actually, I haven’t quite figured out the best way to email that PDF without downloading it again. Even when I crack that last little bit, I’m not sure it’s worth it. On the other hand, I can connect to my desktop over RDP and do practically anything on that box from my iPad. It’s a cumbersome connection that works well for a geek like me, but I won’t be convincing any of my users to put up with it. But hey, this is iPad v1.0 and I know it’s going to get better. Apple seems driven to play in the enterprise, Microsoft (should) want Apple to succeed more than Google and I have a goal for 2011 of developing an iPad app. If this truly is a trend toward my future, I am going to get ahead of it.

7 thoughts on “Why I Bought an iPad

  1. I am a road warrior and while I love my iPad, I have not been able to stop lugging my laptop around just yet. The iPad is my favorite device for consuming information, but I still need my laptop creating most content and sadly for browsing SharePoint. I am a heavy SharePoint user and the experience to do the work I need to do in SharePoint just is not great using a iPad… yet. So I too am looking forward to the iPad2 and to the new apps that will be created for it. The process you described about getting documents to SharePoint. You mentioned converting the documents to PDF and trying to email the PDF without downloading it. You may want to check out a product called Vizit Essential. It is a document visualization tool that allows you to view docs in SharePoint without the need to convert them to PDF or download them to your client, the viewer is pure HTML. I do work for the company that makes Vizit, so I am biased, but it may help solve part of your process problem.http://www.atalasoft.com/products/vizitCheers,Rutherford

  2. The comment below was posted by an anonymous user, but it never showed up here. I did receive the text in an email, so I am posting it so I can reply to it.===================================I am a road warrior and while I love my iPad, I have not been able to stop lugging my laptop around just yet. The iPad is my favorite device for consuming information, but I still need my laptop creating most content and sadly for browsing SharePoint. I am a heavy SharePoint user and the experience to do the work I need to do in SharePoint just is not great using a iPad… yet. So I too am looking forward to the iPad2 and to the new apps that will be created for it. The process you described about getting documents to SharePoint. You mentioned converting the documents to PDF and trying to email the PDF without downloading it. You may want to check out a product called Vizit Essential. It is a document visualization tool that allows you to view docs in SharePoint without the need to convert them to PDF or download them to your client, the viewer is pure HTML. I do work for the company that makes Vizit, so I am biased, but it may help solve part of your process problem.http://www.atalasoft.com/products/vizitCheers,Rutherford

  3. Thanks Rutherford for reading and for your comment.In this case, I am talking about documents that I want to convert to PDF and email to outside contacts who don't have access to our internal server. I think I have seen your product before, but I'll take another look.I did read recently that Apple is talking about a full version of Safari for the iPad. I would assume that would mean much better SharePoint browsing.Best,Dan

  4. Have you tried SharePlus (I couldn't tell if you were using the browser or an app)? I've only tried the Lite version for read only access, but it may make your Sharepoint via iPad experience a lot better if you're just using Safari.

  5. Thanks for reading David.I have looked at SharePlus. I think it might work well for me, but it leaves most users with that 3-cushion bank shot. Download to iPad, edit in DocToGo and upload with SharePlus. I'm really hoping Apple delivers a non-mobile version of Safari for the iPad, then I think this concept could get traction for average user.

  6. @Airceek – I bought the full version of Filamente about a week ago, it does make life easier. I like the product very much. We are planning to give about 10 mobile users iPads next month, I think it will be one of the apps we preload.Thanks for reading and commenting

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