Apple iPad will be coming to a law firm near you soon enough

Apple will be launching the iPad in the US soon (3 April 2010). Every geek's favorite fruit-company has tried to create as much hype around the iPad as there was around the iPhone. The success of the iPhone has been astounding. The corporate world still seems quite hooked on Blackberries though the calls for iPhones among lawyers is becoming increasingly stronger. The biggest advantages of the iPhone: it genuinely easy and intuitive to use and it has 'an app for everything'.

Modern computer operating systems are (still) simply too hard to understand for most people. The same goes for most smart phones. There are thousands of people who hold on to the "I just want a phone that can call" adagium. On the other hand, there are plenty of people that actually want - or even had - a smart phone (one that can read e-mail, browse the web, play some music, take and show pictures, etc.) - but were never capable of fully understanding it. If I ask a typical Blackberry user (even those who have a Curve, Bold or Bold 2): "How often browse the web on their Blackberry?", the answer is usually: "never" (or: "I did not know that was possible"). Every iPhone user browses the web (either through one of the apps or through the standard Safari browser on a daily basis.

Apple iPad

A category of its own

Apple has seen that their version of a smartphone has redefined the way people use their phone and has made it possible for non-technical users to perform various tasks on this single device. The iPhone has started to outgrow the 'smartphone' label - it is now used a small hand-held computer.

The logical next step for Apple is to take the success of the iPhone platform - both the iPhone Operating System with its consistent and easy-to-use interface (multitouch and well-designed hardware and software interface elements) and the concept of Apps and the App store - to another platform. The simplest approach: to increase the size of the screen (and thus the device) so that the tasks that require a little more screen real estate (like reading a book, office documents or long e-mails) will become a lot easier.

Huge success

The Apple iPad is going to be a huge success. Maybe the initial success will be smaller than that of the iPhone but in many ways the iPad is a lot more revolutionary. The iPhone is still seen as a phone -- and we had many of those already. The iPad will be the first modern (2010s) hand-held computer that is truly easy-to-use and versatile. That is why the iPad is classified as a device that defines a whole new category of its own.

In your private life the iPad will (among others) be useful for:

  • Any type of information consumption (reading, video's, podcasts, the web, etc.)
  • Digital photo book - holding your photo database and sharing these pictures with family and friends ('here Dad, take a look at our recent vacation pictures')
  • e-Learning (language learning, cooking instructions, DIY instructions etc.)
  • Games and Entertainment (it will not be long before you can play Farmville on your iPad)
  • Communication (mail, chat, phone (Skype), and eventually - in a future version - video calls)

Professional usage?

But what about professional usage? How will this be a useful device to have in your law firm?

At first, the iPad will mostly be a success in the private sphere of life, just like the iPhone initially was less focused on the business world. But as our business life and private life will continue to become more intertwined - so will the usage of the iPad. Even with the initial lack of multitasking will the iPad be useful for usage in your professional life. Multitasking is a myth in its own anyway - people can not really multitask and studies have found that active multi-taskers tend to be less productive than single-taskers. The iPhone does not have multitasking (yet) and is still extremely useful (also as a business device). Instead of having to bring a stack of documents to your next meeting, you just bring your iPad and flip to documents right there. Checking and responding to e-mail will be a lot easier than on your (smart)phone.

The iPad will be success in your private life - and therefore it will be a success in your business life. You might want to keep those two fully separated. But most of us are still slaves to our Blackberries (or iPhones). So as you are lying on the beach during your two week holiday this summer, you will be enjoying being able to read the latest news or that newly purchased eBook on your iPad. You will also be grateful that you can check your (work) e-mail on the device. After all - you were expecting an important message - but were reluctant to bring your laptop to the beach (who does that, really?). This is just one example of how the business usage of the iPad (or the category of devices that it represents) will be creeping into your business life through your private life. That is aside from the direct business application that the device will undoubtedly have a short while from now.

Conclusion - get ready for a new breed of computer devices to claim a role in your personal and business life. As soon as you see your fellow lawyer (or neighbor) sporting his or her new iPad - you will be wondering whether you should get one as well. Leave it up to Apple to continue making products that have that effect.

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Bram Braakman • 30 March 2010
Archived under: Information Management, Reviews


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