If Apple Inc.’s iPad lives up to its hype, it could change the way business is done, the way medical records are kept, the way presentations are viewed and the way people read their newspapers, books and magazines.
Of course, it remains to be seen if all that comes to fruition. What is known is that up to 700,000 iPads were sold over the weekend.
The iPad is available in 16-, 32- or 64-gigabyte models and comes with WiFi connectivity. The next edition will include 3G network capabilities.
Pricing for the iPad starts at $499, and pre-orders were limited to two per person.
The early reviews by several Milwaukee-area business executives range from favorable to wait-and-see.
"I think (the iPad) is a paradigm-shifting device that will have a big impact on how computers are used going forward," said Terry Longrie, a local custom software developer. "I think its going to be the ideal field-service sort of computer…I can see people such as Realtors, home inspectors, house painters and any sort of business where a significant portion of the work is done outside the office, looking towards devices like the iPad in conjunction with off-the-shelf and custom software to support their business processes."
The device opens up a whole new world for software developers, who will be able to create applications that can utilize the device’s larger screen and faster processor.
Michelle D’Attilio, president and owner of Corporate Identity Solutions in Wauwatosa, did not originally plan to order the iPad, but he decided that as a marketing and design business, there were a lot of advertising and design initiatives that the cmopany needed to understand.
"After doing some research, I felt like it would be really good for us to be able to understand the way that advertising will look and work on the iPad," D’Attilio said. "It will be really beneficial to our clients if we can help them look at those options and understand them."
D’Attilio and her business partner, Jeanette Pham, also will use the iPad to conveniently make on-site presentations to their clients.
"It will be a lot more portable than our regular laptops," she said.
The most recent release of the iPad is not without limitations. According to D’Attilio, she originally was not going to purchase the first version because it lacks a camera and the capability to upload via a micro-SD slot or USB port.
Amy Westrup, executive producer of Shift Worldwide LLC in Milwaukee, had a huge interest in the iPad until she realized it did not support Flash Media.
"It wouldn’t do us much good as a business," Westrup said. "We can’t use it for our virtual communications platform, can’t play most video sites including our own recordings, and we can’t display most web sites properly since they have lots of Flash elements."
The fact that the iPad does not support Flash Media is a widely debated topic in the IT world.
Peter Wigren, chief information officer of Shift Worldwide indicated that the ability to stream Flash would extend a developer’s reach beyond the control of Apple, which may or may not be the reason the initial model does not support it.
According to a recent report on CellularNews.com, worldwide iPad sales are expected to reach 7.1 million units in 2010, reach 14.4 million in 2011 and nearly triple to 20.1 million in 2012. With Apple’s initial iPad sales on the predicted track, the company is unlikely to change its position on not using Flash unless there is a notable impact on sales.
Joe Sorge, owner of AJ Bombers, Swig and Water Buffalo, and one of Milwaukee’s most prominent business users of social media, purchased the iPad for his personal use and for use by his customers at AJ Bombers.
"It’s certainly a business tool, and a way for us to expand our reach in social media," Sorge said. "But its also fun, and I’m looking forward to sharing the device and learning about its capabilities with our loyal customers."
Sorge is making the iPad available to customers, many of which are Milwaukee’s social media elite, so they can explore its capabilities and learn more about the device together.
"Many of my customers ‘geek-out’ about new devices like this, and I’m right along there with them," he said. "Getting one and making it available at AJ Bombers will be a way for us to learn together and find out what we like and don’t like about it."
To see photographs of AJ Bomber customers using the iPad, visit http://twitpic.com/photos/AJBombers.
Alysha Schertz is a reporter at BizTimes Milwaukee.