It is all set to burst onto the scene.
Dolce&Gabbana and Louis Vuitton have already come up with their own stylish dress for it. Isn’t the iPad just a gimmick? A cunning ploy to get a few more dollars out of customers while awaiting the release of Apple’s main product, the new iPhone? Sales figures for what is bound to be product of the year have quickly silenced critics: the market has gone iPad crazy with people rushing to snap up the newborn tablet. Even Microsoft, Apple’s sworn enemy, has thrown in the towel by pulling the plug on plans to roll out iPad’s rival, Courier.
Just a month after Apple’s little jewel was released (in the first 24 hours alone, over 300,000 iPads were sold and a million Apps downloaded), Microsoft has decided to rethink the launch strategy for its fledgling tablet. It means avoiding almost certain suicide, and waiting to fight another day on a more level playing field – though with predicted sales of five and a half million iPads for 2010, that’s unlikely to be before next year.
Computer buffs and Apple lovers alike have been quick to cast their views:
the speed of the device is a big hit (Apple’s 1GHz A4 processor is spot on), as
is the screen – bright enough for easy reading thanks to the OpenGL graphics
engine (which lets you flick through the pages as if it they were real). Nothing
wrong with its weight or touch-screen keyboard either, although it’s not as
comfortable as a standard laptop keyboard.
The main misgiving is the poor Wi Fi connection: the device often has trouble getting a signal. Exporting files into PDF format can also produce corrupt or unreadable files. Then there’s the lack of a camera, multitasking and Flash plug-in support while browsing. Flash is unlikely to be available on iPads any time soon, given the heavy criticism that Apple, for once in unison with Microsoft, has aimed at Adobe Systems’ software. Flash has been banned from iPhones and iPads, with its reliability, security and performance issues plain for all to see.
Yet the real revolution with the iPad is not the possibility to flick through
an online newspaper at home or in the park: the tablet’s biggest future
application may well be in hospitals. Having previously been adopted by several
US universities to help teaching staff, the iPad is currently being used in a
pilot scheme at the Kaweah Health Care hospital in California as an aid for
keeping track of patients (like a clipboard). It also gives doctors immediate
access to all patient-related information such as X-rays and scan results. The
iPads will be connected directly to Citrix’s virtual desktop, so that patients
can be monitored without needing to purchase extra applications.
Restaurants are also getting in on the act: Lecere Corporation has begun trialling the iPad in a number of restaurants for entering orders and settling bills. The card number is entered using the iPad’s touch keyboard and the client signs straight onto the touch screen. Lecere CEO Jim Morris says it guarantees a 90% reduction of costs over a traditional POS solution: the set-up used for the pilot scheme cost just $2,000, compared to the $20,000 needed to employ a POS set-up with its non-movable equipment.
The iPad has also got TV studios drooling. US network WFXL has equipped its anchors with Apple’s latest device and got rid of all the paper used to help with newsreading. The texts are written by the editorial staff and then emailed to the iPads in use. WFSL News Director Terry Graham reckons they can do away with thousands of sheets of paper, which means a saving of $9,600 over the course of a year.
Staying in the TV sector, ProPrompter offers an ideal solution to journalists both in and out of the studio: it connects the iPad to the lens of a camera and can also be used as a portable teleprompter with an iPhone.
Meanwhile the fashion houses are rushing to put their signature on every accessory imaginable for the iPad, with Dolce&Gabbana and Louis Vuitton two of the forerunners. Dolce&Gabbana fans will be able to buy an iPad case with the DG logo by Christmas, while LV lovers will have to wait a little longer – until Spring 2011.
Text by: Giuliano Federico