The rise of the tablet (is the iPad the beginning of a new era?)

There’s been a LOT of discussion about what the future holds for computing. PCs have been around for the last 20+ years and tho there have been a lot of advances, the form factor hasn’t really changed much. There’s a keyboard and a mouse and a monitor/cpu box (I lump them together because I write this on an iMac).

I’ve been in “IT” (information technology) for well over 30 years and I cut my teeth on the big mainframes of the time. Heck, my first programming job was done in COBOL and we put the code into the computer on keypunch cards!

I won’t try to detail every change that’s happened between now and then, but most of us realize there haven’t been that many changes in the type of computing device since the PC came into play. Well, there have been several attempts at changing things with ‘netbooks’ and the ill fated Newton from Apple (which I still actually have 2 of… anyone want to buy them?). But I think you could see the winds of change coming when Apple released the iPhone. It (at least for me) became a great little tool to be able to connect with the outside world even while outside.

The iPhone started becoming such a useful tool. The maps, the applications, the email, the ability to surf the net while waiting for my daughter’s dance class to end. While the iPad won’t initially have a camera, the lightbulb went off in my head one day with at the doctor’s office with my mother. The doctor said we needed to go buy xxxx product at the drug store. In the past, I’d write it down and then go hunting… but this time, I simply took a photo with my iPhone and walked into Walgreen’s and held up the picture and asked where I could find it. Such a great little device – saved me so much time.

Redrock Micro

Heck, I’ve even read stories about how the iPhone is being used in so many different ways by the American military – including flying drones via remote control! And just today, here’s another story of the military asking Apple to help them with new stuff in the future with the iPad.

The app store has been such a great tool too – so easy for developers to distribute their applications. What a great setup for the iPad!

And now, we’re going to have this iPad and it will indeed change people’s lives. Granted, it won’t do everything, but it is so simple it will even revolutionize the ‘parent’ industry. My mother (who is in her 80s) constantly complains about her windows PC (yes, I tried to get her onto macs, but she wouldn’t budge from what my dad had). And oh how she complains about her cell phone. She’s been tempted several times to buy a phone that is “just a phone” – “I don’t need a camera or the Internet” etc she says.

Now… let’s talk about that… what is it that she’s asking for? Something simple and easy to use! Is her PC simple and easy? Nope. Even her phone is too complicated for what she needs.

So here’s where Apple is genius… making things simple! While many people complain about the iPad not doing ‘multitasking’, I was watching the video about Paul using his iPad to run his business for 30 days – and one thing he said hit home. The iPad will actually help him focus on one thing at a time (and boy do I have this problem too!). Today, on our multitasking iMacs etc., we are so easily distracted by the email alerts, the IMs, the Internet and everything else, won’t it be great to simply focus on one thing at a time?

Now, imagine some of the uses of this new focussed device. The medical profession can sure use something like the iPad with a set of software designed for them. We already mentioned the photographers using it as a portfolio. There are thousands of people out there just now exploring what the large screen of the iPad could do for their business or application.

One thing I will say that is missing (someone did ask my opinion right?), and Steve sure wouldn’t agree with me, is handwriting input. The big thing that could hold back the iPad is the virtual keyboard – and Apple knows it because otherwise it wouldn’t have released a physical keyboard as an option. The newton had some pretty good technology to convert handwriting to text and I would think that something similar could be done with the iPad. The finger isn’t the best writing device, but maybe it would work? Why not also try the voice to text option? I’m guessing tho that the voice processing takes a huge amount of processing power.

I’m not the only one who’s excited about the possibilities of the iPad. Just read a very interesting article over at Wired about the future of tablets (make sure you read the extra quotes). There are lots of great points over there. Granted it has yet to be shown that the iPad is going to come out a winner here, and Apple has indeed had some failures (the Newton – but I’d argue that Steve just didn’t give it a chance), but to me, the iPad has all the markings of a device that is going to rock the world.

And when Quicken comes to the iPad, my mother is getting one!


(Photo credit: snap from the image from the Wired story)

Leave a Reply