Paul Thurrott opines:
Put simply, when you use an iPad, you're typically not contributing to anything, as you can on a PC. Instead, you're simply consuming. And this is how I think the iPad should be compared to the PC: Consumption vs. contribution. Yes, you can do things like answer emails (using the virtual keyboard) on the iPad; there will always be exceptions to any vague generality. But for the most part, that's what this is about. Consumption vs. contribution.
When you go out and about with just an iPad, you're sending a message that you're not going to contribute. You're just there to consume. This is why the iPad is, to my mind, uniquely unsuitable in the workplace. Knowledge workers don't just read documents. They comment on them, edit them, send feedback. They contribute. And contributing means using a device that not just allows editing, but makes that capability a central point of the entire experience. (Multitasking wouldn't hurt either.) The iPad is not a business tool. In fact, for most people, it never will be. (And those who contort their workflow to make this possible are, of course, simply trying too hard to justify their vanity purchase.)
But I really disagree with his somewhat prickish tone regarding the iPad. "When you go out and about with just an iPad, you're sending a message that you're not going to contribute." Do tell. When I go out and about with a book, what message am I sending?
And speaking of the "workplace" (which it's not clear that he was, since we were just "out and about" in what we English teachers like to call the "topic sentence" of his paragraph), he's got a pretty narrow view of the "workplace." I think the iPad, or devices like it, will be fantastic as:
* Moblie cash registers (iPhones are already used for this, the pad will be better).
* To view medical information, including records, xrays, etc.
* To enter common, discrete information rapidly (think, almost anything clipboards are used for in actual workplaces.. there will be apps for that!).
* Replacements for all sorts of bulky tablet computers already used to replace clipboards (think, cable installation guys, mechanics, etc.)
I also know a realtor who loves it for checking MLS on the fly for availability and pictures, and then handing it to her clients.
Anyway, I like it for myself. It's just about perfect, ergonomically, for reading books or websites. Absolutely wonderful for restaurant menus when you need to hand it around to decide where to go.
One minor quibble I have with my pad is that, when I don't have a case on it, my thumbs are so fat that I sometimes engage the multi part of multitouch without meaning to. And I assure you, dear reader, my thumbs are not fat.