In my Econsultancy blog in January 2010, I said that the newly announced iPad would succeed because of its usability.  At that time, the technology press was undecided about whether the iPad would succeed and I was accused of being a ‘dribbling Mac fanboy’.

And I pointed out that I meant usability in the International Standards sense of:

  • Effective (thousands of apps already available at launch).
  • Efficient (millions of iPd and iPhone users already familiar with the multi-touch interface).
  • Satisfying for users (at which apple excels).

At the recent annual conference of the Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors (IEHF), I spoke about our family’s experience of our first year with the iPad. 

Easy navigation for all ages

One of my first pleasant surprises with the iPad was how immediately my young grandsons took to the device. They have now had a year of playing with Grandpa’s iPad and watching them navigate with ease is truly astonishing. 

My wife has become a fan as her main digital consumption is email, photos and Skype (to the above mentioned grandsons). 

Travel light to meetings

I have also been surprised by how useful it is for dealing with email – it handles my Microsoft Exchange email beautifully along with three other email accounts. Swiping through my inbox is a joy, even if the emails aren’t.

The other surprising use is as a document reader at meetings. Attending Council meetings of the IEHF or International Standards meetings either means printing off half a tree’s worth of paper or sitting in a cat’s cradle of tangled power leads at the meeting. 

With the iPad’s great (and genuine) battery life and powerful document reader software, I have been able to travel light and rather smugly flick through the relevant documents in real time.

Facetime is snazzier than Skype

When the iPad2 was announced, the killer feature for us was the pair of cameras, so I have succumbed to the pressure and bought one for my wife. We are now a two iPad family. 

Facetime is even snazzier than Skype but needs another Apple device, so a third iPad was required for my grown up daughter living 400 miles away.

The end of the laptop as we know it ?

Not only have Apple created a product which is highly desirable for people, they have resurrected a market sector (tablets) which looked dead and buried.

One of my new (and probably not very controversial) predictions is that tablets are going to be the ideal Cloud Computing device. The whole point of Cloud Computing for the consumer is that you don’t need to carry lots of data around with you.

Of course you can access it all through other people’s hardware in cyber cafes or offices or on your phone but I think the benefits of having your own personalised device with great battery life, instant on and a high quality readable display will help ensure that the iPad (and the tablet in general) will continue to transform how we consume computing. 

They may even signal the end of the laptop as we know it.

Following lots of requests, my iPad presentation slides are now available to everybody on slideshare:

Who needs an iPad?
Tom Stewart

Published 6 June, 2011 by Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart is Executive Chairman at System Concepts, and a guest blogger at Econsultancy. System Concepts can be followed on Twitter here, and Tom is also on Google+.

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Comments (2)



You mention that your wife likes the iPad for email, skype, and photos. I would like to have one and use it a lot for skype and email, but I write a lot of not-so-short emails. Is the iPad really only good for checking emails and sending very short emails, rather than writing longer emails? I'd love you know your opinion on that.

about 7 years ago

Tom Stewart

Tom Stewart, Founder at System Concepts

Hi Dana
yes do buy one (I don't get commission!). I find the onscreen keyboard surprisingly usable but to be certain you can write your long emails all you need to do is use a separate keyboard. As far as checking emails is concerned, it really is good - I find scrolling through lots of emails much faster than using my pc. enjoy!

about 7 years ago

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