Is the iPad Good for Business After All?

One of the chief early criticisms of the iPad was that it was good for fun, but bad for work. Its touch screen keyboard makes it difficult to do any significant word processing, spreadsheet manipulation, or presentation creation. But there's some evidence that corporations are already beginning to embrace the stylish device -- after only being on the market for a few months. Were the naysayers wrong?

Bloomberg says that some major corporations have become comfortable with the device's security and find it quite helpful. Wells Fargo, for example, uses it to demonstrate financial products at investor conferences. Additionally, Bloomberg reports:

SAP AG, Tellabs Inc. and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz are using the tablet-style computer for tasks as varied as accessing work e-mail, approving shipping orders and calling up on-the-spot auto-finance options.

Of course, you can use blackberries for e-mail too, but some of these other purposes are notable, and not necessarily possible on a smartphone. Even though you might not be able to do very involved work on an iPad, companies may find it particularly useful when workers need mobility and a device for fairly simple computing tasks.

Still, all of these capabilities are possible on laptops and netbooks as well, which can generally be purchased for cheaper. The iPad's real advantage here may be more form than function. Perhaps that Wells Fargo presentation looks prettier on an iPad screen than a netbook. Maybe it feels better to pull a tablet out of your pack to approve a shipping order than to open up a laptop.

The lesson here is clear: firms might not be able to use iPads for everything, but they can use iPads for some things. Right now, the cost will likely hold back some corporations from adopting the device for mobile workers who need such basic computing functionality at their fingertips. As the price declines, more may choose to purchase iPads, but form is likely to remain the major driver over function.