The Apple iPad is a runaway success story, with more than three million sold. Surprisingly, many of those sales are going to corporations and their leaders; more than half of Fortune 100 companies are testing the iPad.
The iPad is performing the old ‘end-around’, sweeping past the information technology priesthood to arrive in the executive suite. The reason? The iPad tablet is lightweight, stylish, powerful (in terms of capability, not processor speed) and easy to use. Starting at $499, it’s available in wifi-only and in versions that also provide cellular connectivity using AT&T’s 3G network.
“We’ve found it to be very easy to integrate,” says Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO, SAP “The device’s reboot time, weight, 3G support, and size make it work fairly seamlessly in the corporate environment.” As a high level chemical company executive told us “It lightens my briefcase.”
No, it won’t fit into a pocket like an iPHONE. But in the words of Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, who has abandoned his laptop in favor of his iPad, “It is a magical device.”
Apps for iPad
Hardware is only part of making Katzenberg’s ‘magic’ happen. With the iPad, as with the iPHONE, it’s all about the apps (applications.)
Many apps, from business to absorbing games, are free, and almost all are ‘low-risk’, financially speaking. Apple’s best-selling Pages productivity application is $9.99, while GoodWare’s GoodReader is just 99 cents.
Pages for iPad is a wordprocessor which also has layout tools, allowing users to create everything from notes to newsletters, reports, brochures, and flyers. Rotating iPad in Pages provides a widescreen view of your document, with a large onscreen keyboard that can suggest words, correct spelling and insert punctuation automatically. (For more serious typing, a Bluetooth wireless keyboard is available.)
If Pages is for writing, GoodReader is for, well, reading. The app helps capture and view many kinds of files, including PDFs, Office and iWork documents, text files, HTML pages, photos, music, and videos.
Another strong business option is Documents To Go-Office Suite, which lets users take attachments from emails (like Excel or Google Docs) and edit them on the iPad, $9.99.
Although the iPad is ideal for one-on-one presenting, iPad apps like Keynote ($9.99) let you give professional presentations complete with virtual touch screen laser pointer. (However, you’ll need an extra-cost iPad dock with VGA adapter to connect to a projector.)
Email is a critical app as well. “On a recent trip I actually did something that I’ve never done in a long, long time, which is work my inbox to zero on an airplane,” said Ralph de la Vega, CEO of AT&T’s wireless unit. “But I did it because the iPad made it so easy and I had Wi-Fi connectivity.”
CEO iPad Users
“I use my iPad for everything,” says Jim Hagemann Snabe, Co-CEO, SAP. “I bring my iPad to meetings. It gives immediate access to the information I need, through access to email, our corporate network, business intelligence tools, and CRM. I also use it for presentations and demos, and for reading and music when I travel.” Snabe is not the only SAP iPad true believer; SAP is rolling out 17,000 iPads to staff.
Of Snabe’s top three apps, one is email and two are made by his company. “SAP CRM to view and update customer information while I’m on the road or in a meeting, and SAP Business Analytics shows me what’s happening with the business — say sales in a particular region— in that moment. By having the information I need at my fingertips, I can change the types of discussions I have and make smarter, faster decisions.”
He added, “While I use Blackberry for all phone and calendar information, I am starting to use my iPAD for just about everything else. In addition to email, I use Notebooks for the iPAD to make notes before and during meetings, and I use Adobe Ideas to scribble ideas.” The iPAD also helps SAP ‘go green’, Snabe says. “More and more we’re using the iPAD in meetings to reduce printing as part of our sustainability agenda.”
CEOs of smaller companies find iPad apps valuable as well. Lewis Johnson is president of Alelo , a Los Angeles developer of courseware and computer games for learning foreign languages and intercultural skills. Alelo has more than fifty full-time employees.
Johnson, whose company delivers its language products on PCs, over the Web and on iPods and iPhones, says, “As President of the company, I find the iPad an indispensable tool for demonstrating our products to prospective clients and small audiences. It’s also a great way for me to access and read whatever documents I need. I keep most of my important documents on a cloud-based file share that I can access from my iPad.”
Johnson’s top-5 business apps include:
- Web browser (“where I also read my email”)
- E-book readers (iBooks, Kindle; Johnson notes that his iPad has replaced his Kindle e-book)
- Dropbox (to sync and share your files online and across computers; free)
- “Our own Alelo mobile learning products.”
The iPad does not replace Johnson’s laptop, but serves as an electronic notebook. “I typically take it to meetings, and take notes on the iPad instead of a notepad or laptop. It’s also much more socially acceptable in places like restaurants. At home, when I am working in the kitchen I use it to play podcasts and Internet broadcasts. And yes, I take it with me on airplanes. I have movies, games, books, and other stuff loaded.”
One high-stress CEO’s favorite iPad app doesn’t help him run his business, but helps him relax. “Do you guys know what Shazam (free) is, even?” he asked reporters, his voice dripping with disdain. “You hear a song on the radio, you hit a button, it tells you what the song is and it gives you the lyrics. It’s a ridiculous thing, but it’s convenient,” notes New York City Mayor (and Bloomberg founder) Michael Bloomberg.