Brace yourself. Before the month is out, they will be knocking at your door, insisting that Apple’s iPad tablet―for sale on or about April 3 (pre-orders started March 12 at 5:30 pm PST)―is just the gadget that will solve a multitude of IT problems while, simultaneously, giving your IT strategy a leg up .
It will not.
What it will do, say many experts, is create problems. And those problems will become your problems. It’s not just the iPad. Other tablets are not much better, even though Gartner now is projecting an avalanche of 10.5 million tablets to be sold in 2010.
Even if your company has relented and now supports the iPhone, as growing numbers of businesses do (70% of the Fortune 100 are at least testing it, says Apple) you’ll want to say “No” to the iPad and other tablets. Here’s why:
1. Slow is as slow is. Even the academics join in the dissing. “Tablets and touch screens do not work in traditional enterprise settings because the interface is much slower than the traditional mouse and keyboard,” said James Wolf, an assistant professor of Information Systems at Illinois State University. Moving your hands around a screen is clunky. “The keyboard/mouse is much faster and easier than the tablet’s input.”
2. “The iPad does not run common office productivity tools,” said Lorenz Lammens, a web strategist and managing director at the Online Design Bureau in Dallas. No Microsoft Word, no PowerPoint, not much of anything important to business today.
3. No camera on an iPad. None. How weird is that? No video conferencing. No Skype video.
4. No multitasking allowed on the iPad. At a time when multitasking is the norm, only one non-Apple app can run at a time because, under the hood, the iPad is a gussied up phone (it runs on the iPhone OS).
5. No Flash on iPad. That means no watching Web videos (unless it’s on YouTube, for which a special player is promised).
6. No USB out of the box. So, just how will a user transfer blocks of files? There’s no transferring work to look at later at home. But that doesn’t really matter because there’s no app to run that work on anyway, said Lammens. So, maybe the lack of USB makes a kind of only in Cupertino sense.
7.Money talks. A decent netbook can be had for half the $500 Apple is expected to price the bare bones iPad. A tricked-out iPad will cost $829. A really sweet netbook won’t cost more than $400, and this unit will run all the office productivity tools. The economics worsen. A data plan for 3G capable models is expected to add another $30 monthly to the tab.
8. Speaking of money, there is no money in the company budget to pay for iPads. There is money for cell phones so a persistent Apple fan might finagle funding for an iPhone in lieu of a BlackBerry, but there is no budget line for tablets. None. That makes saying “No” definitively easier.
9. Not supporting iPad will be the enterprise norm. ”Consumers will buy the iPad to use as an e-reader,” predicts Chris Hazelton, research director for Mobile and Wireless at The 451 Group. “But the iPad will not be bought by enterprise.”
10. Tablets have never caught on. Apple won’t change that. As far back as Comdex in 2001, Bill Gates predicted tablet computing would change the world. You know what happened to Comdex and tablets, too. Steve Jobs has marketing mojo, no doubt, but it is difficult to see exactly where tablets will fit into enterprise. What do they do that smartphones don’t do better at one level, and netbooks at the other? The right answer is nothing.
Here’s a final irony, per Trevor Doerksen, CEO of MoboVivo, a distributor of content to iPhones, iPods, many other devices. “The people in enterprise I know who have tablets were given them by vendors. They did not pay for them.”
As a busy freelance writer for more than 30 years, Rob McGarvey has written over 1500 articles for many of the nation’s leading publications―from Reader’s Digest to Playboy and from the NY Times to Harvard Business Review. McGarvey covers CEOs, business, high tech, human resources, real estate, and the energy sector. A particular specialty is advertorial sections for many top outlets including the New York Times, Crain’s New York, and Fortune Magazine.