Five business uses for an Apple iPad
By Ian GRAYSON
Since Apple’s Steve Jobs loped onto the stage in San Francisco to unveil his latest digital creation, the vast majority of coverage has focused on what the device will do for consumers. But I see big potential in the corporate world as well.
I should say at the outset I’m not an Apple fan boy. While I acknowledge beautiful design when I see it, the “Do it our way or no way” ethos espoused by Apple makes me squirm.
That said, there is a lot to like about the iPad and I believe it will provide a healthy kick to what has until now been a very lacklustre category: tablet devices.
But what place will they have in the business world? Here’s five potential uses to start the ball rolling:
* Stepping closer to the paperless office
Much of daily corporate dealings still rely on paper. Everything from reports and memos to invoices and stock sheets find themselves in paper form at some point in their lives. Equipping managerial staff with iPads could go a long way to alleviating many paper trails. The good sized screen means things that would have been habitually printed out to read or take on the road can now remain in electronic form.
* Slicker customer proposals
The relatively low cost of the iPad will allow them to be incorporated as part of big client proposals. Why just leave a print out of a PowerPoint presentation we you could leave an electronic copy, together with embedded audio and video, for the CEO to enjoy at their leisure? If it wins you the big contract, an iPad is a small investment to make.
* Better media monitoring
Rather than subscribing to multiple magazines and newspapers for the office, switch to electronic versions and have them downloaded to a number of shared devices. Staff can borrow them to read as required, returning them to the pool when they’ve finished. It’s a big step forward from sharing that dog-eared magazine that’s a month out of date.
* Replacing notebooks
Face it. Many people who lug around notebook PCs only use a fraction of their capabilities. Equipping selected staff with iPads could reduce both costs and shoulder strain.
* New business opportunities
Once there is a critical mass of iPads in the market, new and unforseen business opportunities will emerge. The device could revolutionise everything from books and magazines to games and video. Keep an open mind to what this could mean for your business.
So, there’s five. What other corporate uses can you see for the iPad?
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Will Australian iPad owners get screwed?
By Adam TURNER
As if it wasn't hard enough to justify US$499 on Apple's new glorified iPod touch, it looks like Australians will get screwed when it comes to two of the iPad's few redeeming features.
The easiest way to justify the expense of an iPad is to call it an eBook reader, which is reasonable considering the iPad's screen size and price tag are the same as Amazon's new Kindle DX. To coincide with the launch of the iPad, Apple has announced the addition of an iBookstore to the iTunes store.
Considering the iPad has a colour display and a range of internet-enabled features, it's pretty hard to favour the Kindle DX over the iPad unless battery life is the most critical feature. The icing on the cake is that Amazon offers an excellent Kindle iPhone app that lets you buy books even if you don't own a Kindle. You can expect Amazon to call in the lawyers if Apple bans the Kindle app from the iPad.
Okay, so that settles it - let's buy an iPad and call it an eBook reader. But wait. The iBookstore is not listed as an iPad feature on the Apple Australia's website. A tiny note on the US site says iBooks are "available in the U.S. only". Sorry Australia, but it looks like No iBooks For You! when the iPad is launched here in March, although a US iTunes account might do the trick.
Australia will also miss out on the 3G-enabled iPad when it's launched in March, initially we'll only get the wifi-enabled version. The 3G version will be available in the US, but it seems it uses a 3FF SIM card - known as micro-SIM. Never heard of it? Don't worry, few people had until this week (that Wikipedia page was only created yesterday). By an amazing coincidence, Apple's US telco partner AT&T has heard of micro-SIM cards and will have them ready to roll out for the iPad. Jobs' bragging about selling the iPad as unlocked for pre-paid plans is a cynical bastard act when he knows full well that the iPad won't take a standard SIM card. Only the most rabid Apple fanboy could seriously defend Apple's choice of micro-SIM as future proofing. Using micro-SIM cards is the perfect lock-in which can't be subverted with simple software hack, although the fact iPads are unlocked might force Apple to offer competitive international pricing to foil the flow of grey imports.
The iPad's use of micro-SIM cards is a godsend for the telcos but a pain for users because they can't just slip in the SIM from their phone or USB modem. It gives the telcos absolute control over who uses an iPad over mobile broadband, how they use it and how much they pay. Once again Apple has betrayed loyal customers in favour of the telcos, and monopolistic players such as Telstra will be rubbing their hands together with glee. Apparently you can fit a SIM card into a micro-SIM slot if you take to it with a Stanley knife, but it's not something you'd do lightly (especially if you can't get a micro-SIM to SIM adaptor).
So as if it wasn't hard enough to justify buying Apple's fancy new toy, Australians look set to get screwed when it comes to eBooks and mobile data. It's a special Australia Day gift from His Holiness, Steve Jobs.
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The iPad arrives - how well did the tipsters do?
By Stephen WITHERS
So the rumour mill got some things right and some things wrong - about par for the course, I suppose.
As generally predicted, the iPad - Apple's new tablet - is essentially an oversized iPhone or iPod touch.
But where people were claiming the price would be at least $US1000 - maybe even $1500 - unless subsidised by a carrier, the base model (without 3G) with 16GB of memory is $US499. Even the high-end configuration with 64GB and 3G is only $US829.
Which leaves you wondering about the motivation behind the rumours that what we now know as the iPad would be as expensive as a MacBook. There are various possibilities.
Conspiracy theorists might suggest that it was a deliberate 'softening up' effort on Apple's part - leak an excessively high number, then the real price will seem cheap in comparison.
Or maybe the numbers originated with 'analysts' who pulled numbers out of the air rather than actually analysing the probable cost of the device. Mind you, that was always going to be difficult until exactly what was in the box.
Talking of which, the suggestion that the iPad would be based on a chip of Apple's own design (think PA Semi) also proved correct.
But do you remember the stories that the iSlate (the then favoured name for Apple's tablet) was soaking up practically all the 10.1in OLED touch screens being made? It turns out that the iPad has a 9.7in IPS (in-plane switching) LCD touch screen.
Relatively recent reports that the device would be announced in January with first deliveries in March were on the money.
(On the subject of timing, back in August 2009 I wrote "Wouldn't it be ironic if Apple released the tablet in January, the traditional time for Macworld Expo? Apple's no longer attending Macworld, and the organisers have shifted the event to February. Part of Apple's reasoning was reportedly that it wanted to free its release schedule from another company's timetable.")
And yes, it is being positioned at least in part as a e-book reader, and Apple will be selling the books - and presumably magazines and newspapers - through the iBookstore. OK, so my suggestion that Apple would recycle the iBook brand for the device itself was wrong, but there's a distinct echo in the name chosen for the new store.
One thing I don't recall anyone tipping in anything other than general terms is the range of iPad accessories coming from Apple.
There's a keyboard dock (full-size keyboard and stand, with audio output jack and a duplicate dock connector for connecting the charger or other accessories), case (combining protection for the device with an easel-like stand that can position the near horizontally for typing or near vertically for viewing), a conventional dock (much like those for the iPod/iPhone), a camera connection kit (USB and SD adaptors), and an extra USB power adaptor (one is included with the iPad).
So as usual, the rumour mill gets a mixed report card.
Will you be queuing up to buy a iPad in March?
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Can you build a business with social media?
By Anthony CARUANA
Can you build a business with social media? This is a question that's been occupying my mind over recent weeks. When any new business launches it needs to get some sort of customer base quickly or it risk atrophying before it really gets started. Statistics in Australia suggest that at least a third of small businesses fail in their first year of operation.
The question is particularly relevant to me as I launch a new online publication (Netbook Mojo) and I begin the task of attracting readers and advertisers (in that order!). There are some people out there who boast that it's possible to create a profitable business on the back of social media tools. However, I'd argue that a social media strategy (and there are more than a few people out there promoting themselves as Social Media Strategists) is just one part of an effective marketing strategy.
Over the coming weeks I'll be using whatever tools and energy I have at my disposal to make Netbook Mojo a success. I'll report back on what works for me, what didn't work and what I've learned about the tangled web of social media marketing.
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Are WE Making Sense? I'd like to know.
By David HAGUE
One of my computers bit the dust yesterday. Well not exactly – my main developmental machine for video, audio, graphics and so on editing decided it knew there was an internet because it could talk to it. But in its own little solar system, using the analogy of the ’net being the Universe, it was totally alone the poor little mite.
This caused somewhat of a problem as at the moment, it is downstairs and I am upstairs working on the laptop and netbook. No, I haven’t sent it to Coventry for being a bad little pooter, nor is it in the naughty corner; it’s simply that upstairs it is airconditioned and downstairs it is not. And if you read the papers or watch the news, (or hear me complaining), you’ll know it has been 40 degrees and above of late in the sunny west. But my printers are connected to the USB 4 port hub connected to it and I had a bunch of stuff to print and proof.
Anyway, after much testing, pulling and poking, I discovered that Client for Microsoft Networks had faffed itself. Did you understand that last sentence? More on that in a moment.
This veteran but solid computer is running Windows XP, and I had seen no need to upgrade it on the grounds that if it ain’t broke, don't fix it. But now I had a dilemma. Re-installing Client fort Microsoft Networks is not in itself a big thing; pop in the Windows XP disc and do a simple install from the appropriate location using Control Panel. Still with me?
But this was more complicated than it sounded for me as all my discs are kept secure in a sealed stacked carousel affair from Opdicom. And this was network attached, so of course the XP machine couldn’t get to it. I couldn’t put it on another machine as the Opdicom stack also had the driver disk in it with my serial number on it. There are a few ways around this I concede, but there was also an option of upgrading the computer to Vista and then to Windows 7, both of which discs I have stored elsewhere. Maybe it was time to do this, with Windows 7 being superior and an upgrade well overdue.
And right now that is where it sits as I got thirsty in the heat and had a cold beer and then as it was 5:00pm couldn’t be bothered going any further. Besides, Men Behaving Badly and Blackadder were on The Comedy Channel on Fox.
These types of situations in the tech world are not uncommon. Our computers (theoretically at least) get a bit more of a bashing than your average domestic / small business equivalent as we are continually installing new applications, new drivers for hardware and pulling them apart and putting them back together again. As such, an internal mailing list many Tech Journos subscribe to has many and varied questions along the lines of “Anybody had this problem and know a quick fix?” or “My dongle is not googling adequately and I have no idea why”.
Most times, someone knows the answer or where to find it, but I offer that to most people who saw this conversation may well think we are talking Martian without the subtitles. We are used to it and most of us can translate at least some of it sufficiently to get by.
But here are my questions and I’d love to get some feedback. Do the average people understand what we are saying in our technical blogs and magazines we are effectively – most of the time – trying to write for the masses, or are we considered as writing for the converted who know what we are saying anyway and the average user has little or no idea what we are talking about?
Let me know; leave a comment here or if you don't want it public, email me at email@example.com
Shameless Plug: Incidentally the brand new, all singing and dancing and shiny website for AusCam magazine is now up and running at www.auscamonline.com
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