Why the iPad Doesn't Work in the Work World

I was recently asked to give my point-of-view on the iPad's role in business based on the following question ::

Does the iPad have real potential in the work world? Why or why not?

My answer is below. Would love to hear your thoughts if you agree or think differently.


The iPad has real potential in the work world, but we’re not there yet. While there are plenty of features geared towards more casual usage (e.g., e-mail, web, applications), the iPad is extremely limited in terms of being a holistic technology solution for working professionals.

There are three reasons for this.

First, the iPad’s role in people’s technology device family is not clear yet. Most business people have smart phones and laptops. On a smart phone, they access e-mail, web and applications. On laptops, they can do all of these plus complete complex publishing tasks (e.g., word processing, presentations, design). On an iPad, the features are almost exactly the same as a smart phone. More specifically, the iPhone 4. I literally do everything on my iPhone 4 as I can on my iPad. In fact, I can do even more on my iPhone 4 since it runs on the new Apple OS and allows multitasking among applications. In order for the iPad to have real potential in the work world, it needs to replace what professionals are currently using their laptops for. Or find a different niche for usage.

Second, the iPad has limited functionality, which hinders productivity. As mentioned previously, it does not include multitasking functionality since it runs on Apple’s 3.2 operating system. In addition to this, there is no USB support, webcam, minimal storage capacity and it does not support SD cards. The iPad also has very limited presentation software capabilities and does not allow users to edit Word documents. Most standard laptops today include all of these features and more.

Third, the concept of opportunity cost does not favor the iPad. It’s expensive to purchase an iPad sufficient for business use (e.g., iPad 32GB Wi-Fi + 3G costs $829). It’s difficult to justify spending $800+ on an iPad knowing you can get more functionality from iPhone 4 32GB for half the price. So, the question becomes, “Is it worth spending $829 on an iPad versus something else?” Probably not.