Some pundits have declared the iPad a “toy”, or suited only for content consumption. I disagreed with the latter a few days ago, and I think it will have some very interesting business uses. If I come up with a sufficiently novel one, Oasis Digital might implement it.
But sadly I must mostly agree, for at least my personal use of iPad v1, with the “toy” assessment. Here’s why.
I like to hand this iPad (I wrote the first draft of this post on it) to other people to try out, to my kids to play with, to sit it out as a novelty for guests, etc. But if I set it up as a personal tool, with my email, calendar, Twitter, Facebook, other accounts, work related files, etc., then I’d be handing access to all that personal and business information to everyone I offer the iPad to. Clearing out and re-entering my accounts from a whole pile of apps (and Safari, and Mail, and ???) is tedious and error-prone. My personal accounts include occasional bits of my (and our customers’) proprietary information, so leaving them present for guests is clearly unacceptable. Thus, for now this iPad can be only a toy to me. I occasionally set up email, then remove it; set up Twitter, then remove it, etc. I type some notes, then email them to myself, and remove them.
The key missing feature of the iPad, for me, isn’t a camera, a USB port, or an SD slot – it is the lack of a user account/profile capability. My Ubuntu netbook, at half the cost, has this capability in the box.
This isn’t much of an issue with an iPhone, which by nature of being a phone, is inherently almost always a personal (not shared / guest) device.
This isn’t much of an issue with an iPod Touch, at least for me, because I already use it as a guest/toy only anyway.
I suspect that Apple won’t add an account/profile mechanism anytime soon; it is easier to therefore ignore a mixed personal / guest use case like mine. If Oasis Digital ends up with a line of iPad software, we’ll work around the problem by buying more iPads.
But in the meantime, I like the share the one I have – so I must configure it primarily as a toy.