If we believed analysts and techbloggers, then the iPad is as necessary as a rash on your butt. It’s “technically inferior” to a laptop or other not-yet-available-tablets/slates/what-ever-you-name-it (no USB, no camera, no whatsoever), the business model dubious (who wants to pay for content?) and to be honest Apple’s licensing models and control-mania quite frankly outrageous.
The analysts and tech-bloggers are totally right, but they also totally miss the point. A PC, Macbook or laptop is nothing else than a supercharged rocket where most folks just need a bike. A bike that’s cool looking, easy to use and learn and doing the stuff I need just perfectly fine.
Here’s the deal: I bet with you that in 5 years the iPad (and any knockoffs from other vendors) will be used by 75% of business users to do their work. And I have some good arguments why this will be so. When you analyze the tasks that a typical business user does today, then you’ll find the following:
- Reading, writing & sending emails
- Reading & writing documents
- Preparing & presenting slides
- Creating spreadsheets
- Use web based business transaction
- Surf the internet (only work-related, of course)
- Play games (only during breaks, of course)
- Watch videos (only inspiring corporate videos from the CEO, of course)
For these tasks you really don’t need a laptop. These tasks can be handled by a modern laptop without even getting the circuits warmed up. Sure: there are the folks who need to edit and number crunch video-files, compile source code and run multiple virtual sessions. But these power users are the exception. Today we give everybody a rocket. If this hasn’t convinced you, here is more:
- The iPad is cheaper (compare a US$ 500 iPad to a US$ 1,000+ laptop)
- There are no moving parts (that can get defect), which means maintenance is cheaper
- Battery life on the iPad is just incredible (more than 10 hours watching videos, try that on your laptop)
- Easy way of distributing, installing and upgrading apps
- Laptop is bulky and heavy compared with an iPad
And don’t forget that the usability of the iPad is just outstanding. Intuitive, idiot-proof – sorry – user-friendly that even my three year old browses through YouTube and selects the train videos he wants to watch. And we are people who like to touch, not click with a mouse (and more often than not missing the click target). Even if you don’t like typing on a touchscreen, you can add a keyboard.
Test it yourself: take your laptop and pretend this is an iPad with keyboard. You type just as you are used to do it, and instead of grabbing the mouse, moving the pointer to the field or button you want to hit, you just touch the button on the screen. That’s much faster and way more intuitive.
For zooming-in just double-click or slide two fingers. And to browse through the pages and tab-strips just slide them left or right or up and down.
We are just at the beginning of how we interact more naturally with machines. And the iPad and the little brother ground breaker iPhone is a step in the right decision. Comparing it to the evolution of the iPhone in the past three years, the iPad will be such a mature thing in a short time, that all these critics today will be silenced then.
What does it mean for SAP? 75% of business users will be using iPad or similar devices in five years (remember: that was my bet). That means 75% of SAP systems will be accessed through iPads. You see the urgency? We better get going to adapt our apps to the iPad (and iPhone). And fast! And perhaps once in a lifetime we will have cool UIs. Imagine: SAP and cool UIs! In the past an oxymoron, in 2010 a synonym. I challenge you to prepare yourself for that revolution.
Note: I had a number of PDAs during the years, but the iPhone has proven to be the by far best device so far. Now the SAP (as well as corporate) culture has worshipped these phones with little keyboards that push each and every email on your device. That’s why broad ranks just haven’t realized the potential. The iPhone remained an exotic tool, while the users base just became larger and larger. The iPad now changed it. It is in the eyes of even the most addicted keyboard-phon-fans and it’s not going away.
A bunch of developers inside SAP just started a little iPhone/iPad developer group to get their hands dirty. Within a few weeks we’ve grown to a community of 200+ members from all over the globe with more than 60 discussion threads, dozens of local groups that formed teams, and we saw interest and got support from across all board areas with everyone trying to help us and if necessary circumventing official processes. The momentum is incredible and this kind of positive energy hasn’t been seen for many years.
Colleagues who visited SAPPHIRE this May just were astonished about the numbers of iPads and iPhone they saw in the hands of conference attendees.
So what I want to say is this: THIS is a big movement already rolling.