I have been on an emotional roller coaster with my hopes, expectations and plans for the forthcoming Apple iPad. At first, I got swept up in the Steve Jobs as a Mystical Shaman euphoria and thought this device would change the entire landscape of personal computing. Once I came to and let my Apple hangover subside, I decided I was disappointed with some of the notable- and mind-boggling- omissions. Like standard ports, a camera, etc.
Meanwhile, in my never-ending pursuit of technological efficiency, I continue to struggle with my mobile game plan. Historically, I carry my iPhone everywhere, and put together an impromptu toolbox when I travel. Depending on the location, method of travel, length of stay, etc., I choose between my HP tablet (smaller, but less powerful), my HP laptop (sleek and powerful, but big and heavy) or my HP netbook (which I rarely use, but take on short trips sometimes out of charity). Along with the selected computer, I take my USB wireless broadband card. Since iPhones still can’t tether, I have to pay another $60 a month to ATT for this card. Anyone see a connection there?
This approach works OK, particularly as I migrate more and more to the cloud. But it would be nice to have less equipment, and to use the same devices everywhere. There are still times when I have one device, but need something that is local on the other device.
So I started to wonder if the iPad might just be my mobile game plan in a box. Much of the time, whatever laptop I’m lugging around has more horsepower than I need. Maybe an iPad could replace all of my laptops, reduce my gear load and make me a consistent mobile user. Yeah, that sounds good.
No, wrong. The iPad is probably going to screw up my plan- and break my heart- due to three major issues. Issues that will be the end of any hope on Apple’s part for corporate acceptance of the iPad.
What Good is It If We Can’t Read Our Email?
While I haven’t seen any final word on this, I am concerned that the iPad won’t support Microsoft Exchange. Most companies use Exchange for their email, which means that, in some techy Groundhog Day twist, the very thing that kept business users from getting iPhones for so long will prevent us from effectively using iPads.
I hope- and Apple better hope- I’m wrong, and the iPad will support Exchange. It’s one thing for non-corporate users, all of whom are going to carry some manner of cell phone, to spring for an ATT-subsidized iPhone. A more expensive, non-subsidized tablet is another thing altogether. The iPad needs the business community, or it will become nothing more than a better Kindle.
A secondary, but important, issue is what will corporate IT departments do to the iPad in the (misguided in my semi-humble opinion) name of security? I had to battle with my company to get an hour password screen lock window on my iPhone (that I paid for). Assuming the iPad does support Exchange, will business users have to hobble their iPads just to read their mail?
I Want to Fracking Tether, and I Want to Do It Soon
It’s beyond absurd that U.S. iPhones still can’t tether- something my Blackberry did 3+ years ago. It is unthinkable to expect those who already pay for an iPhone and a wireless broadband card to pay ATT yet another monthly fee to get 3G on our iPads (should I mention that the lack of a USB port makes it impossible to use said wireless card with an iPad?).
If I can get rid of my wireless card, and apply that cost to a data plan for an iPad, great. But that will require Apple to include a tethering feature on the iPad. And I haven’t heard anything that leads me to believe that’s in the works.
Which leads me to ask: who do they think is going to buy all these iPads they plan on selling? Seriously.
And the Final, Word?
Lastly, the iPad needs to support the viewing and editing of Microsoft Word documents. The business world is based on- and largely hostage to- Word. For meaningful penetration into the corporate world, Word on the iPad is a mandatory requirement.
Maybe Apple will figure this out, maybe it will be Microsoft, or an app developer. But someone better, and soon.
So Will I or Won’t I?
I don’t know. If at least two of these three issues are addressed to my satisfaction, probably. Otherwise, I’ll probably wait for the iPad 2.0.
Or maybe I’ll get a Kindle.
John Welch, via PCWorld, says that, happily, iPads will have Exchange support. According to sources, iPads will have the same Exchange-related features as the iPhone. Kudos to Roberto Bonini for predicting this via Twitter. John seems to be on my side of the iPad as a potential business tool debate, though he shares my concern over the lack of Flash, and my fear that IT directors will overstate the network-related issues.