Apple launched the new iPad (with no numerical suffix) overnight, and it’s as certain to barnstorm the consumer sector as its predecessors.
But what’s surprising is how the tablet – particularly the iPad – has encroached on the corporate and business device market, and the iPad is sure to continue Apple’s assault on commercial buyers (the first since the company was known for art and design computers in the mid 90s).
The biggest draw for corporate users might ordinarily have been the much-talked about 4G capability. As carriers launch 4G networks across Australia we’re going to live with the first truly data-friendly airwaves. For business-critical applications, 4G is set to offer the speeds you’re only used to under your own roof, which will make large file transfer or high bandwidth applications easy to use anywhere.
But there’s one big catch. So far Telstra is the only Australian carrier with a 4G offering. And what you won’t read in the large print is that it runs on a different frequency than US 4G networks, so the iPad will not work on our 4G networks unless either the carriers or Apple make changes, neither of which are likely this year.
Much is being made about the display technology. With four times as many pixels as the last iPad and with a screen resolution of 2048 x 1536, every application you use will be much easier on your eyes. Text will be cleaner and sharper, pictures will have more detail and video can display at up to 1080p HD. The front-facing camera is also 5 megapixels, which puts it in a similar class as most compact digital handheld cameras.
So if you have a reliable corporate data network, a fleet of iPads between offices or locations could render most low-end videoconferencing systems obsolete. If you’re in a visual industry the iPad can now compete directly with your desktop PC for the device of choice to review content.
All the extra display strength is powered by a faster, better processor, but Apple claims the new iPad has the same battery life as the older model – enough for an average workday in most cases. They’ve also said all older apps will automatically scale and display with no problems, and because it runs on the latest iOS, you won’t have any problems if your current iPad’s system is up to date.
Voice recognition technology has never been perfect but we’re especially excited about dictation. Despite the hassle of translating everything into American spelling it’s set to be a huge time saver when browsing, writing an email, taking notes or third party app functions. Just click the microphone button on the keyboard and speak rather than type.
If you’re in the midst of an iPad 2 fleet rollout and don’t want to consider any other provider, go ahead – the only improvement the new iPad will offer is a minimal performance boost. Depending on your industry you’ll benefit from the increased image clarity, but there isn’t much more incentive for Australian buyers.
Ovum principal analyst Adam Leach said today, “Apple has enjoyed a first-mover advantage; however, we expect competition to get more intense through 2012.” Windows 8 is coming and Google Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich has ‘bridged the smartphone and tablet divide’, according to Ovum, so while the iPad still holds a convincing lead, holding off to put both Windows and Android through their paces according to your unique needs is a good idea, particularly as they might play nicer with 4G infrastructure from Telstra and any other carriers who come online.
Of course, you don’t want your network integration and IT people to reinvent the wheel. According to Forrester Research, almost half of enterprises support Macs and 30 percent support the iPad. If yours is one, adopting Windows or Android will incur costs along with a learning curve.
The last compelling feature in the iPad’s favour is the price. At $899 for the 4g/Wi-Fi/64GB model, it’s $150 cheaper than it’s first generation equivalent.