Australia welcomes the iPad … with caveats


news Australians in the nation’s technology sector have broadly welcomed the launch of Apple’s iPad tablet this morning, with some minor reservations about restrictions or lack of features on the device.

“Overwhelmingly, it’s a positive development,” said Macquarie University chief information officer Marc Bailey, who is a keen iPhone user and sees the iPad as “an iPhone on steroids”.

Bailey said he could see various scenarios where the device would be useful.

“The form factor is obviously aimed at student computing,” he said, noting he expected that Macquarie University students would start bringing the device onto campus as soon as it went on sale in Australia. “The iPhone has been extremely successful successful at penetrating the student body.”

Bailey believed the iPad would also find a place with executives who already had a desktop PC and didn’t want to carry around a full-featured laptop all of the time. “Those people will quickly throw away their laptop computer.”

“I note with interest it runs [Apple’s PowerPoint equivalent] Keynote,” he added, flagging the device’s potential as a presentation device if it could be attached to a projector.

Other than that, Bailey also expressed an interest in using the device for casual browsing on the couch at home — a situation in which he finds himself often checking email and sending brief replies. “I know a lot of people that do this,” he said.

Queensland-based Glenn Irvine, the CEO of local cloud consulting firm Webagility, said he found the device “revolutionary, in a subtle way”, and will consider buying one.

“This is a great device for introducing the web to the older generation or from an accessibility perspective,” he said. “So much more intuitive. And the larger real estate with the display will finally bring the video experience and gaming home to consumers.”

Irvine believes the device will be a great e-book reader and suitable for one-on-one presentations to clients. He doesn’t see it as replacing another device in his life, rather adding an aspect between the iPhone and a laptop or netbook. Some of his iPhone use might migrate to the iPad.

Multi-tasking needed
Darryl Adams, a public servant from Greystanes in NSW, said he would consider buying an iPad as opposed to a netbook, as when he had a laptop, he was using it mainly as a media player and web device anyway. Adams can see the device being used in social settings.

“You have a group of friends, and you’re talking bulldust,” he said. “If it is like my social group, it can get esoterical, with a lot of history and politics. With this device, you could quickly whip it out, get facts, pictures and whatnot and pass it around to the others, also sharing music and art and so on.”

“Add in a good ad-hoc local area network, and the social element improves. It is a new(ish) formfactor, and being untethered, will allow it to be used way beyond what Mr Jobs Esquire envisioned.”

But the publice servant was concerned about the device’s lack of multi-tasking. “My iPhone is crap in that regard,” he said, “it can barely play music and allow me to Twitter. Heaven forbid I try to listen to internet media and Twitter at the same time. This form factor needs to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, or it is a serious issue.”

Adams’ sentiments were echoed by Bailey, who said he wasn’t sure about the iPad’s suitability for use as a general computing platform, due to its inability to run more than one application at the same time (a limitation it shares with the iPhone and iPod Touch).

“And it really needs SD media capability,” added Adams. “Every other media device — from phones to cameras — have SD or derivative storage. Hopefully USB storage will work well on this device.”

Perhaps the last word on the device came from Western Australian software developer and TAFE IT lecturer Frances McLean, who concluded a blog entry on the iPad by saying: “So now we just have to wait and see if they are really worth all the hype and the price. Hope it’s not like the MacBook Air — nice to look at, but not really worth the expense.”