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The iPad: The Future of Personal Computing

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This week's Daily Record column is entitled "The iPad: The Future of Personal Computing."

A pdf of the article can be found here and my past Daily Record articles can be accessed here.

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The iPad: The Future of Personal Computing

Approximately 14.8 million iPads were sold in 2010, with 7.3 million being sold in the last quarter of 2010. One year ago, industry experts predicted far smaller numbers ranging from 3 million to 9 million. In 2010, iPad sales were so high that its revenues for actually surpassed Apple’s portable computer revenues last year. 

Earlier this month, the iPad 2 was released. It sold out in the United States during the first weekend, with analysts estimating that between 500,000 – 600,000 units were sold. 70% of the purchases were made by first time buyers. By the end of 2011, sales of the iPad 2 will no doubt surpass the original iPad’s. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that by the end of 2011, Apple will have sold over 22 million iPad 2s.

Last Tuesday, I joined the throngs of iPad 2 owners. Nearly one week and a half after the iPad 2 was released, I stood in line at the Apple Store at 7 a.m. on a Tuesday with approximately 100 other anxious Rochestarians. Three hours later, I left triumphantly with my new iPad 2 in hand, affectionately naming it “Dorothy” once it emerged from its packaging.

Now some have asked me why I bothered to buy Dorothy when I already own “Alice”, my first generation iPad. The reason is simple: I am tired of constantly battling my family for access to Alice. My husband and 9 year old are now regularly reading books using the Kindle app. And, both of my kids love to play games on the iPad. So, I decided to buy Dorothy for my own use and gave Alice to my family. Now we’re a two iPad family, as I predict many families will be within the next year or so.

I am very confident in this prediction, given that my predictions regarding the original iPad, made last year in this very column just a few weeks before it was released, came to fruition. In my column published on March 16, 2010, I concluded that the iPad would change the way we obtained and consumed information:

“The iPad will not fill an already existing niche — it will create a new one. It will be ever-present in our homes, during daily commutes and on airplanes. The iPad will be prevalent where people tend to read books or magazines, but will be far less visible at locations where people mostly work or socialize. It will be our conduit for media consumption and our interface of choice. The iPad is a game changer of epic proportions — of that I am sure.”

I also asserted, correctly, I believe, that the iPad would not replace laptops or smart phones:

“It won’t be a portable work station. Laptops will continue to serve that function far better than the iPad. The iPad will suffice for composing e-mails and short documents but, for most businesses, laptops and desktop computers will remain the interface of choice. Likewise, the iPad will not replace the iPhone. Smart phones will continue to function as miniature connectors to the information super highway. Their smaller size and GPS functionality make smart phones ideal for certain tasks that the larger, less portable iPad will not be able to duplicate.”

Of course, I wasn’t the only one to make these predictions. Many industry experts and analysts came to the same conclusion—just as others claimed, vehemently and incorrectly, that the iPad would be a tremendous failure.

Industry experts aside, even my decidedly non-techie husband accurately predicted the iPad’s importance last April when, after he’d had a few minutes alone with the iPad, he handed it back to me and said, “I totally get it now. In a few years, every member of the family will have one of these and will use it as their own personal computer. And people will pass iPads around the family room like a magazine or book.”

My husband was right. The iPad and other tablet computers will soon be mainstays in most middle-class American homes and will be the personal computing device of choice. Mark my words—within two years, at least one member of your family will own one, if not more.

Nicole Black is of counsel to Fiandach & Fiandach in Rochester. She co-authors the ABA book Social Media for Lawyers: the Next Frontier, co-authors Criminal Law in New York, a West-Thomson treatise, and is currently writing a book about cloud computing for lawyers that will be published by the ABA in early 2011. She is the founder of lawtechTalk.com and speaks regularly at conferences regarding the intersection of law and technology. She publishes four legal blogs and can be reached at [email protected].

Comments

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Robert Blankenship

I believe you are absolutely correct.

I am buying a second iPad (and probably a third) for exactly the reasons you describe. I am tired of fighting my wife and my 8 year old for access to it.

I will say though, I use mine for work at the courthouse constantly. No need to haul around volumes of law books. I have them all in the palm of my hand. With a Dropbox and an Evernote account I am also able to get the major part of orders done on the spot.

Nicole Black

Thanks for your comment, Robert, and glad to see I'm not the only one battling it out with my family!

And, I totally agree re: the iPad and business use. There are absolutely uses for it in most businesses, including the business of law. But I think that in most cases, it will still be used for content consumption (ie. it will replace books, as you suggested)--and will also serve the function of document creation on a small scale.

In fact, I wrote an article last April immediately after the one quoted in the article above where I discussed this very issue and predicted how I thought lawyers would use the iPad.From the article (http://nylawblog.typepad.com/suigeneris/2010/03/how-will-lawyers-use-the-ipad.html):

"In other words, the vast majority of lawyers are not yet sold on the idea of the iPad. Many of those same attorneys, however, have expressed frustration at having to carry around large stacks of documents while commuting or traveling, and have indicated the iPad would hold far more appeal if they could annotate and edit documents on it.

For that group of lawyers, the ability to reduce the amount of paperwork and quickly and easily edit and annotate documents, as if writing on an electronic document, would be a deal breaker.

Those lawyers do not envision creating documents on the iPad, but rather marking up a pleading or contract, making notations in the margins to a draft appellate brief, or commenting on an internal memorandum. Such tasks, currently, are not accomplished easily while on the road, since neither lap- tops nor smart phones are well suited to those types of document annotations.

The iPad — with a larger screen and unique touch screen functionality — has the potential to change all of that but the real question is, will it?

Not surprisingly, I think it will."

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