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Innocent Until Proven Guilty

by Terence Ronson, ISHC 
April 18, 2011

Just over a year ago, the life we once knew, and to some extent had come to grips with, was thrown a huge curve ball and has never been the same since. This time it was called 'iPad'. Other curve balls have been thrown at us over the years like iPods and iPhones, but this one was so dramatic in its intensity, that it metaphorically shifted the earth off its axis.
The iPad is the Swiss Army knife of the second decade in the second century of the second millennium. Before it, we were like Neanderthals wielding tools that were clumsy and archaic in nature - much like our closest relatives - the Chimpanzees in Planet of the Apes.
The invention and ultimate proliferation of the iPad - has seen planet wide domination like no other thing before it. The steam engine, the radio, telephone, TV or even the motor car has not experienced such early adoption rates and by such a wide and previously unsuspecting audience, as the iPad has experienced - its scary! So prolific has this been, that forecasters predict it could propel Apple into being a trillion dollar Market Cap Company in just a few short years from now.
Whist many may say this is part of human evolution, and has brought with it a great many positive things, there are those who live in fear of it. Not just because it can be out of reach financially, and is sought after like no other piece of TECH, but because expectations are so high as to what it can, and sometimes can't do, they have made it the unofficial benchmark by which all others - and by that I mean followers, are benchmarked.
Believe it or not, the iPad actually became a victim of its own success.
For the first few months you would hear very little negatives, but slowly and surely, criticism started to flow because it didn't have a camera, nor could it be used as a phone. So what did Apple do? They released iPad2 complete with two cameras, and instead of giving it a phone function (although you can make it so with Skype), they instead released Face Time on the device, enabling the user to make proprietary video calling between certain Apple devices, such as iPhones, iPod Touch and MAC computers. You could say they listened and reacted - but one may speculate why they did not do it for version one, unless they believed version one users would become version two users, and therefore buy a second machine - just twelve months later. Whatever your thoughts, the fact is iPad is now the de facto Tablet or Slate computer.
Sure they've sold millions of them - no one disputes that. In fact one can easily tell the adoption rate by just looking around. Go into a Starbucks and people are using them. Wait in an Airport lounge, people are using them.  Go into a Classroom, and kids are using them. Go into a Meeting, people are using them, enjoy a relaxing moment in a Hotel lounge and people are using them - they are omnipresent on a global scale.
But hold on a moment - is it really fair to judge competitors in this way? Do we do the same thing for Notebooks? If we follow the same rule of thumb, then the majority of Notebook users would be MAC users.  In reality, it is not the case - the world still revolves around Windows - whether you love or hate it - it's a fact. You may argue the point that MACs don't have the same level of software applications as do Windows - and so following that argument - why is it we condone Android and RIM's new Playbook in this way?
The iPad can't run Flash while other Tablets do - but iPad users accept it. The iPad can't really multitask but the Playbook can  - but iPad users accept it. The iPad can't fit in your pocket but the Samsung Tablet can as well as the Playbook - but iPad users accept it.  A strange set of rules we play by...
Then there is the argument against the Playbook for example, that it's being launched with little or no apps - but the iPad has access to 80,000 to choose from. So what if it doesn't have a lot of apps right now? My first Notebook back in the early 80's - an Epson HX-20 only ran Basic - it had no software for a long while, and that caused me to start the first Epson HX-20 Users Group. Did that stop me and many others paying around GBP300 for it? NO! it was not until FFosswriter came out that is was remotely usable as a Word Processor.
The Psion Organizer was not much different, nor was the ZX80 or Sinclair Spectrum. Some of us seem to have short (and convenient) memory loss. Or are we so spoiled that this kind of practice is unacceptable in this modern era we love living in?
And oh yes, one more thing - the first release of Playbook has a missing piece - 3G/4G Connectivity - it only comes with Wi-Fi - so what I hear myself saying. Most people (me especially) don't use Tablets while in 3G coverage, only at home or places where they can hop onto free Wi-Fi networks. It's an interesting thing, because most Tablet users are also Smartphone users, so when mobile, they can tether the two devices and so you only need one SIM - and one account. More importantly, the Playbook has a Bridge function that lets you mirror the functionality and apps on the BB and so go out over the same connection - you can even tunnel through your BES to the Corporate LAN (with relevant permissions) and browse files that way. I see that as a great plus, especially for Corporate users - you can't do that with an iPad - whether its V1 or V2.
As many of you may know, I got my iPad1 less than a week after release thanks to a great US based friend who helped me secure it and the same one who is helping me get my Playbook.  I blogged about it - and continue to use it - although for more specific purposes now that a year has passed, and I have found a special niche for it. No longer am I app hungry downloading everything I can get my hands on - many of which have been relegated to folders or removed from the main screen - to make way for the handful I regularly use like Facebook, Zite, Pulse, Notes, Good Reader, Currency, BBC, AP Mobile, Instapaper and a few others. I don't use it for Games, but I very much enjoy watching movies, and surfing the net.
My intrigue with this form factor has not waned. In fact, it is as intense as ever, knowing full well this is a handy and useful tool for certain purposes. For me, it most definitely is NOT a Notebook replacement. I find it cumbersome to type using the on-screen keyboard, and much prefer my Mac Book Air. But, having said all that, I have pre-ordered myself a Blackberry Playbook - regardless of all the negative pre-release press it has attracted. I anxiously await its arrival in about 10 days.
 Why did I do that you may well ask? Quite simple really - I'm a happy BlackBerry user and more importantly, I want to judge for myself as to the usability of this new generation device and see why many of the well know TECH press seem to be so biased.
The Hospitality industry has latched on to the iPad like no other TECH item in history. They are scratching their heads very hard to make them into a utopian device - a kind of one-size fits all - the Holy Grail.
Current uses include:  
  • Menus and Wine Lists
  • Point of Sale units with Credit Card processing
  • In-Room Control panels for Lighting, TV, Audio and Environment Controls
  • eRegistration Cards
  • Housekeeping Room Inspection devices
  • Training manuals
  • Meeting Room A/V Controllers
  • Guest Questionnaires
  • Concierge Assistants
  • Mobile websites with hooks to booking engines
  • Electronic Books and Newspapers
  • Controllers for Gym Equipment
  • Second Screens for IPTV systems
  • Remote viewing of CCTV
  • Business Information portals
  • Presenters for Sales Teams
For me, the jury is still out  - I will let you know soon enough once I get my hands on the Playbook - so watch this space!

©Terence Ronson ISHC


Terence Ronson

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Also See: Your Hotel May be Old, But The Way You Deliver Service Should Not Be....Just Ask Mickey Mouse / Terence Ronson / February 2011

2010 Reflections...And a glimpse into 2011 - Guest Room Technology Focus / Terence Ronson / December 2010

The Front Desk Is Dead. Long Live the [New] Front Desk / Terence Ronson / August 2010

Fairmont Hotels Installing Self-service Kiosks in All North America Hotels; Includes Guestroom Mapping and Airline Check-In Features / June 2005

Hilton Tests New Check-In/Check-Out Self Service Kiosks at Two Flagship Properties / Sept 2003

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