Does your Small business need an ipad?

Like many others I had some reservations about the ipad. There’s no USB port, no DVD draw, no direct external monitor support (vga adaptors are available). The keyboard is not designed for speed typing and your other hand might be busy keeping the device steady on your lap. It can only open one app at a time so you can forget about multitasking. How useful can it be for small business?

To answer my insatiable curiousity about a new type of mobile device people queue up to buy I went online to Apple and bought the ipad wifi model. I’ve now had the benefit of using the ipad for a couple of weeks and the ipad and I have become inseparable.

First, a couple of things out of the way. The ipad is not a computer, a notebook or a netbook – it’s an ipad? Unlike a notebook or a netbook the creativity of the every growing libraries of apps for ipad is surprising. The ipad is optimized for one app at a time because this is an ipad not a computer. Do you really need to read an online newspaper and prepare a spreadsheet at the same time? Once we get over that we don’t need to ask why it doesn’t have USB ports or a DVD drawer. If you want to read a PDF or view photos you can transfer them with itunes, download them off the internet, or use some of the apps below to transfer folders and files over the air.

Some apps come standard on the ipad. I use my ipad to view my daily calendar from Outlook. I get an appointment prompt just like Outlook and a big viewing area compared to my mobile phone calendar and contacts. Like most laptop computers in small, micro and home based business, the ipad will be used for more than business. This is a great chance to catch up on reading anything from online newspapers and your favourite magazines, to business PDF’s and charts. The ipad high resolution LED backlit display makes this an excellent reader and viewer and this is among my primary reasons for owning one.

There are over 150,000 apps, free and paid. Many are entertainment based but there are many categories with apps being added to all the time.

Some apps I found of interest to small business are:

Billings Touch
This is an app based on the Apple Design award winning time and tracking application. For mobile users you can track and create billing data on the go.

iwork for Ipad
well known to Mac users, iwork creates presentations, documents and spreadsheets. If you travel this could be very useful.

DropBox for ipad – Free
Install Dropbox on your desktop PC(s), then install the ipad Dropbox app. This is a great tool for sharing documents for example. Just drop the document (Word, PDF, etc) into the Dropbox folder on your Windows based desktop PC and it appear in an instant on your ipad.

Jumsoft Money – Free
The app for personal finances, reminders to pay your bills on time, and password protected.

Documents to go
DocsToGo lets you create, edit and view Word 2007, 2010, Excel, Powerpoint, iwork and other files in Dropbox (Premium edition) or direct viewing, creating and editing.