I had the good fortune to work in Seattle during the release of one of the earliest tablet computers, the Tablet PC (you thought Microsoft Surface was their first effort, didn’t you?). If you lived in Seattle in 2002, you would have been forgiven for thinking that the Tablet PC was a runaway hit. The city seemed to be suddenly flooded with them, and it was common to see people at conferences and in their offices writing directly on the screen with a pen-like stylus. But even in Microsoft’s company town, people quickly stopped using them. They were too heavy, had too many bugs and it seemed that few people really wanted to write longhand anymore.
The iPad has changed all that. Earlier this year, the iPass Mobile Report validated our experience of the burgeoning mobile office as we visited conferences and the corporate offices of our clients. The study found that while 64% of mobile workers already used an iPad or other tablet computer, many more expected to use tablet within the next 6 months. That in itself was astounding validation of the mobile vision for RingDNA. But even more encouraging were the stats that showed desire to use a tablet for work. Only 25% of workplace tablet users had been issued one by their employer. In other words, people like the device so much – despite relatively few business productivity apps on the market – that they are willing to use it in the office.
One such example of how tablets are transforming business is the story of Ai2, a 26-year-old order-entry software company. According to writer Julie Bort, the company invested 30,000 development hours developing their new iPad-based product. The gamble paid off. Ai2’s customers are using the iPad to handle $50 billion in sales and upwards of 100 billion transactions a year.
In another study, the Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) claim that 21% of a surveyed group of iPad 3 users intended to use the device for business. As we iterate on our own public-release iPad productivity app, we’re paying attention to usage trends as well as internal feedback to help ensure that we deliver something that people love.