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The iPad mini: 2013's next big business tool?

Joel Mathis | Jan. 29, 2013
Portable and less pricey, Apple's little tablet still seeks its business niche—and is finding some surprising takers.

Not long after the iPad mini launched last fall, Cameron Yuill, the founder of AdGent Digital, started using the device to make business presentations.

Convenience was one reason: The iPad mini has all the capabilities of its bigger predecessor, including wireless AirPlay mirroring that allows him to project the tablet's screen onto a nearby TV. But salesmanship was a factor, too: There's nothing like arriving at a meeting, seemingly empty-handed, only to pull the latest and greatest Apple technology from a jacket pocket.

"I pull it out and people are quite astounded," says Yuill, whose company provides advertising on mobile platforms. "We're in the business, so we're promoting the usage as much as we can."

Months after the iPad mini launched to the public, the device appears to be a hit in the consumer sector, combining with the fourth-generation iPad to sell more than 3 million units in the opening days of the product's life. But analysts have yet to determine whether the new, miniature tablet will follow its larger iOS predecessors from the living room to the boardroom--and if so, what route it will take to get there.

Schools and hospitals

Two institutions likely to be big iPad mini adopters are schools and hospitals. The first is understandable. Schools already use the iPad, but want to cut down on technology costs. At $329, the iPad mini's starting price is $170 less than that of the iPad with Retina display. Lynn University in Florida will distribute the tablet to freshmen next fall, and the East Jordan, Michigan, school district is buying 770 units of the iPad mini. In the meantime, KinderTown--a developer of educational apps aimed at the 3- to 8-year-old set--saw a dramatic rise in iPad mini usage after the holidays. Inside Higher Ed has endorsed the iPad mini's suitability for classroom use.

But why hospitals? For an unexpected reason: The 7.87-inch-long iPad mini is just the right size to fit in the 8.5-inch-deep pocket of a standard medical lab coat.

"It really fits that lab coat pocket," says Marianne Braunstein, vice president of product management at Epocrates, which makes medical apps for iOS devices. A survey that her company conducted ahead of the iPad mini launch found that one in three doctors planned to buy the new, smaller tablet.

"They're moving constantly between exam rooms, around the hospital...they're very, very mobile people in their careers," Braunstein says. "They need to have devices that allow them to be very portable."

The iPad mini might seem to be at a disadvantage in a hospital, since it doesn't offer the high-resolution Retina display of its bigger counterparts. But Dr. Stephen Ferzoco, chief medical officer at Mobiquity Inc., agrees that doctors will be seeking out the mini: The bigger iPad, he says, is just too cumbersome.

 

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