Confirmed: The iPad Isn’t Good At What It Isn’t Good At

on July 23, 2012

What is it about the iPad that moves seemingly rational people to say perfectly ridiculous things?

The latest example of this foolishness is Matt Asay, writing in The Register, who argues that because there are some enterprise chores that the iPad does not do well or at all, “iPad is RUBBISH for enterprise.” The gist of Asay’s argument goes something like this:

  • Enterprise users depend on heavy-duty apps, especially Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • These apps are not available on the iPad.
  • The Apple alternatives, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote are less capable.
  • Therefore, the iPad is unsuited to enterprise use.

Each of these statements except the last is indisputably true. And that conclusion is completely wrong.

The problem is the implicit assumption that unless a computing device is well-suited to everything we might ask of any computer, it isn’t suited for anything. This is the sort of thinking–Microsoft is particularly prone to it–that has given us bloated all-purpose devices that can do anything, though often not very well.

To support his case, Asay quotes a Macworld article (unfortunately, no link was provided): “For the most part, I love writing on my iPad. But I still do so only when my MacBook isn’t around…”

I would say the same thing, and I would add that I don’t use my MacBook Air when my 27″ iMac or desktop Windows PC is around. The critical thing is that the iPad is always around when I want it; it has the right mix of capability of mobility for a vast variety of jobs, many of them as great utility to the enterprise.

It is true that putting capable Office programs on tablets gives Windows  slates a potential advantage in the enterprise markets. But, as I have written, the new versions of Office programs, while more touch-capable than their predecessors, still are not very well suited to touch use. It’s not at all clear at this point that a Windows tablet running Excel 2013 will really be very much better for enterprise spreadsheet use than an iMac with Numbers.

The big problem here, though, is the fallacy that lack of capability at any task the enterprise may demand renders a device useless. Let’s accept–and celebrate–the fact that we are living in a world where we have a choice of devices of varying capabilities and where