After months of hype, the world has finally been able to check out Apple's new iPad, a 9.7-inch touch-screen tablet, which will let users play games, check email and read books, and is basically a cross between an iPhone and a laptop computer.
While Apple is of course marketing its tablet as the latest "must-have" gadget, should business users - and in particular, the capital markets industry, be paying attention?
Yes, say the experts.Those who stand to benefit the most from the iPad are financial advisers who are constantly meeting clients on the go, says Doug Dannemiller, senior analyst at Aite Group.
For advisers, data visualization and presentation are key. And one of the most interesting aspects of the iPad is its zoom and flip page capabilities, which means it can be shared with a client more easily than a laptop, Dannemiller points out.
"I see the laptop as not a good collaborative tool," he explains. A laptop computer acts as a barrier between the adviser and client, since it is only one person (presumably the adviser) who will handle the keyboard, hit the return key and flip the computer round to face the client.
On the other hand, with an iPad, you can reach over and touch the screen, instead of having to navigate with a button or a mouse. "With the iPad, an adviser could navigate better, sweep pages across, look at a client's financial plan and statements, and work more collaboratively side by side. It's a subtle difference. The touch-screen means you can sit on the same side of the table, work as a partner," Dannemiller adds.
"I've seen apps for the iPhone , such as the Bloomberg app, which are quite strong, where you can drill in to pie charts to see the next layer of detail," he says. "I can see these apps being used on the iPad, where people can navigate personal financial information."
The iPad's media integration capabilities make it particularly attractive for financial advisers, adds Todd Christy, president and CTO, Pyxis Mobile.
The device's rich text, enhanced reader application, combined with a large bright screen and embedded video, make it a great tool for presentations, Christy points out.
"For us, we would expect to be consuming content from Thomson Reuters and embedding it in a business context. We would have clients holdings, a chart of asset allocation, and a chief equity analyst speaking about positions relevant to the client's portfolio. Technically you can do that on the iPhone, but sharing the information [on the iPad] with the client in a personal way across a couch or table, hasn't really existed before.
Just like it did with iPhone in its earliest incarnation, Apple probably still needs to work out some kinks if the iPad is going to truly take off in the business world.
For instance, while the device seemingly supports an external display allowing the projection of media and business content on a big screen (as shown by Steve Jobs during his demo), there is no camera or video conferencing capabilities right now, Christy points out.
On a more technical level, iPhone OS 3.2 apps will run on an iPad but apps developed for the iPad can't run on the iPhone 3.2, which will cause some problems for developers, Christy adds.
All in all, however, Apple seems to have done it again. Despite some reviewers' lukewarm response to the iPad, it looks like with a few tweaks, good apps, and more good marketing, it just might become the latest "must-have" gadget in the business world, and at least for some, in the capital markets, too.
Those who stand to benefit the most from the iPad are financial advisers who are constantly meeting clients on the go, says Doug Dannemiller, senior analyst at Aite Group. Melanie Rodier has worked as a print and broadcast journalist for over 10 years, covering business and finance, general news, and film trade news. Prior to joining Wall Street & Technology in April 2007, Melanie lived in Paris, where she worked for the International Herald ... View Full Bio