iPad: Right Time, But Not Quite Primetime — Part 2: Do 11 concurrent evolutions equal one revolution? Implications of a recently released mobile tablet
Does the arrival of Apple's iPad really cause any revolutionary changes in the HCIT scene? We started down this path last week in Part I of this series. If you missed it, I urge you to read it before continuing with this post. But click on the link even if you did read Part I to review a later comment I made about who will probably find an iPad useful, and for what.
Moving forward, here in Part II we explore points five through nine of my 11 implications.
5. Life flow, a convergence of workflow, work/life balance, and maintaining one inbox: It's 2010. Most of us have email from more than one account magically appearing on our computers, our phones, and other devices. We're managing "to do" and shopping lists, and making online purchases.
Some of us, using Outlook, or other collaborative platforms, are managing comprehensive task, calendar and contact lists, stratified by all the goodies of David Allen's "Getting-Things-Done" (GTD) methodology.
The iPad, like the iPhone, but on steroids because of its larger screen and the evolutionary supporting software, can do things we loved first about the Palm Pilot. It's a convenient, readily available, fast, integrated electronic repository. This time, however, due to wireless connectivity, better evolved enterprise apps — think shared calendars, unified communication, etc. — we can actually get to " stress-free productivity". It's a clear evolution when you have a device with no start-up time that's small enough to keep nearby . . . especially if it's concurrently doing other things for you, like replacing paper (see item 7).
6. You can't teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar: Many things can be fully learned and appreciated only by doing them. Classic examples include receiving advice about marriage, home ownership, and having kids. Prior to taking the plunge, mere words cannot really prepare you or adequately describe the experience. Using technology often takes on this quality.
I definitely don't want to elevate iPad use to that of a monumental, life transforming experience. That said, reading about it or hearing about the experience of others would leave most people with a simplistic notion. That notion might be that the iPad is just a big iPhone or iPod Touch. Or that it is a notebook computer replacement. Or that it's not a notebook computer replacement.
The potential of this device, like many other mobile devices, is that it can be transformative. Experience and play time are essential to evaluation. Many people are already evolving their personal time and information management with mobile devices. The iPad fits into and enables that evolution.
This section title, You Can't Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar comes from this classic book by David Sandler.
7. Big enough AND small enough to replace paper documents: Many people, me included, still print documents that could physically, emotionally and socially be read on-screen. The problem with pocketsize devices is that they are too small to practically read a printed page very well. Reformatting, manipulating, and zoom/pinch/stretching, although cool, don't really cut it.
Laptops, notebooks, sub-notebooks, tablet PCs, and netbooks are more practical for replacing paper documents. Plus, costs have come down over the last decade. The available screen sizes have made 1:1 size equivalency to 8.5 by 11-inch paper a reality. But, they've just been too clunky and unsatisfying for a lot of common situations.
The rapidly growing e-Book reader market is demonstrating that things are changing. There are thousands of non-technophiles who adore their Amazon Kindles. In this light, the iPad, with its color back lit display and range of supporting applications is clearly an evolution.
8. Wireless Ubiquity and 3G options: It is fair to presume there has been an evolutionary move toward wireless access to the Internet, in our healthcare facilities, homes, retail settings, etc.
Part of this evolution has been the increasing incorporation of cell phone technology into mobile electronic devices. In addition to the built-in hardware capability (3G cards have been available as USB or card plug-ins for some time), the evolution that coincides with the iPad is the availability of low-cost, contract-free 3G plans, in part thanks to dramatically heightened competition (see Verizon vs AT&T), and device alternatives like MiFi (see David Pogue's column on same here). The result is it's now practical and affordable to have a mobile device with a large screen, long battery life and seamless connectivity. As you can plainly see, it's the connectivity here that's evolutionary.
Still not convinced, read about Sprint's 4G offering, faster and cheaper, here.
9. The Cloud Computing World: As I created this blog post, and several other documents, I continually sync'd them to storage that was beyond the machine where I composed them. In some cases, I emailed them to myself. In others, they sync'd automatically to an Internet-based storage system called iDisk (there are several, if not many others). And in still another context, my entire computer wirelessly syncs those documents and everything else to a backup storage system called Time Machine.
As a result, I would lose less than ten minutes of time and work if the unspeakable happened, e.g. PC failure due to hard drive crash, getting a virus, or having my computer stolen. And yes, the drive is encrypted. Similarly, I have taken to accessing some of my "services" like my email, desktop, and my EMR access by connecting to remote machines. I described this in point one, Part I of this series.
My devices work faster, are maintained and managed at lower costs, and are more resilient to unplanned disconnects due to loss of network connectivity or power. We have been evolving to a world where I care less and less about my local computer's speed and storage capacity. I do, however, care more and more about screen size. If you are planning to buy a mobile device, you may do fine with a 16 gigabyte version, rather than a 64 gigabyte version, since local storage is less and less a constraint. In this case, the Cloud is the evolution.
The final installment of this series, coming to a computer or mobile device near you on Thursday, will reveal my final three evolutions. Then I'll draw a conclusion about the revolutionary nature — or not — of the iPad. Your comments along the way are welcome.