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“What we want to do is we want to put an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes … and we really want to do it with a radio link in it so you don’t have to hook up to anything and you’re in communication with all of these larger databases and other computers,” – Steve Jobs 1983
It took Apple 27 years to realise Jobs’ dream of a computer in a book, but when he first showcased the iPad, it took the world by surprise.
The first ever tablets had not been well-received, but here was an Apple version using its own proprietary operating system banking on the relatively underutilised arena of apps.
It drew a mixed response. Reactions ranged from ridicule to awe at a device that effectively comprised a screen and a button.
That response was soon counteracted by consumer demand. Apple sold 450,000 iPads in the first week, 1 million in the first month, and 19 million in the first year. And as more and more people experienced the iPad, its business use became clear.
What the iPad offered that nothing else could was true mobility. It wasn’t laden with a keyboard. It didn’t require a mouse. If you wanted to do something, you simply touched the screen.
Coupled with access to a growing range of apps, an iPad wasn’t just an e-reader with pretty pictures, it was a multipurpose device. As Cloud computing grew, so did its potential.
Now you could access productivity software for word processing and presentations. Even better you could store that data in the Cloud.
Soon purpose-designed apps began rolling out to accommodate the mobile trend. Individual companies and dedicated software developers began exploring exactly what the iPad could do.
It could allow people to work on the go, it could eliminate paperwork, it could facilitate up-to-the minute data input and access. And it could do it all from a suave-looking screen that weighed just 1.5lb (680g).
By 2012 the internet was rife with stories about how the iPad was changing enterprise.
In aviation, pilots were exchanging pounds of paperwork with the mobile device, in field work employees were using it to log and access jobs, in medicine doctors were using it research information and record their patients’ results, and in hospitality and retail, the iPad was transforming the traditional Point of Sale.
As the years progressed the iPads use expanded. Now it’s increasingly common to find an iPad throughout business. It’s at the customer service desk, it’s in the hands of staff, it’s checking people in and it is the checkout.
A decade later it’s hard to imagine a world without the iPad. It’s simplicity and mobility has reimagined the world of business.
In just the retail sector alone, the iPad has led the charge as the tool of choice for retailers transitioning to a mobile era.
By 2017, a Capterra report found the mobile Point of Sale market was growing at 9.2 per cent a year, and by and large the iPad was the device being employed to make the switch.
That’s largely because the iPad is:
• Easy to set up
• Accommodates a wide range of POS apps
• Simple to use
• Constantly evolving
Meanwhile, the iPad’s retail use hasn’t just been restricted to transactions. Its ability to accommodate augmented reality has seen iPads popping up as smart mirrors, while its also being utilised as loyalty kiosks, digital catalogues and a handy tool for sales associates.
It’s mobile, it’s fast and it’s changed the face of business. In truth, it is exactly what Jobs anticipated it would be – “an incredibly great computer in a book that you can carry around with you and learn how to use in 20 minutes”.