iPads in Business: There’s an App for That

iPads in Business: There’s an App for That


It wasn’t too long ago that a turtle-necked Steve Jobs unveiled a strange-looking device with an even more peculiar name, which the then-Apple CEO claimed would change the world.

In just 18 months, the bold predictions of Jobs are already coming true. With over 25 million devices sold, the iPad has now become the fastest selling computing device in history. Not bad for something that people were writing off as a gimmick back in April 2010. And as more and more consumers realise that it isn’t just an expensive canvass upon which to enjoy “Angry Birds”, its effect on society is to continue unabated.

Changing tides

When the iPad was launched, the Apple device and all its other tablet cousins were labelled “media tablets” – a reference to what pundits envisaged its primary purpose to be. Struggling publishers of real world print were now being offered the tool and distribution channel to move their publications into the digital age, while still being able to offer the beauty of publishing that browsers could never attain. Tablets, and the iPad in particular, were quickly being recognised as game-changers for the industry.

But it’s not only publishers that stand to benefit from the changing tide. Businesses and the behaviour of the people, who run them, will evolve as the device becomes more prevalent in the boardrooms of South Africa.

At the simple end of the spectrum, business owners and corporate civilians have started shifting away from cumbersome laptops as their preferred mobile computing device. (Not to mention the added bonus that airport security has yet to realise iPads are as potentially destructive as laptops, and don’t insist on separate x-ray scanning of the devices.)

The sleeker more portable iPad can handle many of the non-number crunching duties that keep capitalists busy in airport lounges and hotel business centres. Reading emails on the iPad is heaven compared to the squinting and resizing that a smartphone so often requires, while reading and editing documents on the go is now possible on a device other than a laptop.

A world of apps

With over 400 000 apps available on the iTunes store, there are sure to be applications that will improve your everyday productivity. At the Daily Maverick we’re constantly using Dropbox for iPad that doubles as a network drive for wherever our editors or designers may be in the world. Large documents and editions of iMaverick that couldn’t be emailed are edited and synced on iPads in just one example of how iPads are changing our business.

Nor should we discount the effect that access to quality international news and content will have on business. Quality international publications that were previously reserved for the shelves of CNA, three months after the cover issue date, are now available to executives in a just a few clicks.And not to mention the hordes of industry journals and other print publications that were previously inaccessible, are now just app searches away. Keeping upto date with international trends and thinking has never been easier, for owners of an iPad, at least.

For heavier business users, there are remote connection apps like “LogMeIn” or “Citrix Receiver for iPad” that allow users to remotely control other computers and servers, from the comfort of their pads. A nifty facility for managers that need to access PC or Mac devices remotely without needing to lug around a laptop. And the best part? All these features are available on a device that takes seconds to boot up with a battery life that just keeps on going and going.

Whether the iPad replaces the need for laptops, time will only tell. It certainly wasn’t intended to be a replacement for the MacBook range, but in some international markets, iPad sales are growing to the detriment of its older, larger brother.

A dedicated strategy

With an already estimated 80 000 tablets in South Africa and a market set to grow at over 200 000 per year, it’s not only publishers that will need think about a dedicated iPad strategy. As the tablet replaces the laptop as the preferred mobile computing platform, businesses of all kinds will need to ensure their products and services are customised for the iPad. Whereas publishers have led the way onto tablets, banks, entertainment and software services have been quick to follow in an effort to capture a new audience and part of the $2 billion revenue generated by the app store.

Part of the business appeal of the iPad is that consumers no longer have the psychological barrier to paying for premium content that is the biggest hurdle to online services and publishing, This creates a multitude of opportunities for almost any business offering digital products and services.  And as more and more businesses peg their hopes on an iPad revolution and more consumers get the product in their hands, expect to see more of the device as it continues to permeate our every day lives.

Styli Charalambous
After being expelled from the halls of finance houses for possessing an inkling of wit, this budding entrepreneur spends his days bird watching and managing the launch of iMaverick. He has a passion for taking businesses from ideas to execution and beyond, using his extensive experience in business planning and financial modeling. He has worked on various start-up ventures in the Telecoms and Media industries. Aside from leading operations at Daily Maverick, iMaverick and Free African Media, Charalambous is a professional opinionista and closet stand-up comedian.