That’s right. In less than 3 weeks, the revolutionary new device from Apple will begin shipping. On Thursday, Apple started accepting pre-orders, and some sites estimate 50,000 were sold in the first 2 hours alone. So what is everyone so excited about? What is so great about the iPad, and will it be something you should consider purchasing?
While the iPad has been designed for portable convenience, it’s certainly not in the same league as it’s smaller brother, the iPhone. Measuring in slightly smaller than a standard piece of letter sized paper (7.5″ x 9.5″), a half an inch thick, and only a pound and a half, it’s still incredibly easy to take around in even the smallest briefcase. But the question is — can it replace a laptop?
It’s all about the apps
The iPad’s success revolves around the apps. The same apps that have made the iPhone such a huge success (because let’s face it — the “phone” in the iPhone is mediocre at best), will run on the iPad as well. Developers also have the option of making iPad-specific apps that will take advantage of the larger screen. And those apps that may come out specifically for the iPad could also be priced slightly higher than their iPhone counterparts. With the upcoming availability of iWorks for the iPad (estimated at $30), the iPad will give the mobile professional the ability to do word processing, spreadsheet work and presentations on the iPad. And let’s not forget GoogleApps which already runs perfectly in mobile Safari (and is free to boot).
So, when you visit a client to discuss listing their property, could you replace your large heavy laptop with an iPad, and accomplish the same tasks? You will have access to a word processor, spreadsheet, and just about any website you may need, all from this remarkably lightweight device. You can purchase the iPad in a WiFi version only, or get the Wifi+3G version for the ultimate in mobile internet connectivity. The 3G version will cost you $14.99 per month for 250 megabytes of data transfer a month, or $29.99 per month for unlimited data transfer (the unlimited plan also gives you access to AT&T nationwide network of wireless hotspots which are typically much faster than 3G). The nice thing about the 3G data options is that there are NO CONTRACTS. You can sign up for the 250mb plan for a few months, then cancel, or switch to the unlimited plan. Only for as long as you need it. There are no setup charges or long term commitments. If you chose the 250mb plan, the iPad will alert you as you approach your monthly data limit, at which time you can decide if you want to upgrade your plan to the unlimited version, right on the iPad, without going to the AT&T store. The only downside is that you are forced to use the same AT&T network as the iPhone, and AT&T has struggled to keep their network from not becoming overloaded with the heavy demands placed on it by the iPhone. Time will tell if AT&T can overcome these issues with the increased demand that the iPad will place on it’s data network.
If you purchase one of the iPad camera connection kits (optional), you can import property photos right into the iPad directly from you digital camera or SD card. This gives you the ability to provide your client with immediate access to the photos you took of their property, while at the same time giving you the ability to upload them to your web site, your MLS, or even a Flickr gallery. Right there from your client’s kitchen table.
Pricing for the iPad starts at $499 (without 3G). If you are looking to buy a laptop (or replace your aging one), and really only need access to web sites and email while on the go, you might want to consider the iPad as a cheaper, lighter and more convenient alternative to a traditional laptop. Who knows — over time, even more apps may be introduced to make the iPad an even more viable alternative to a laptop.
If you are thinking of buying an iPad let us know. I can see this a nice way to do a listing presentation without taking the bulk of a laptop out and the screen size is perfect for that sit down.