Here's what's cool about the iPad: they're great devices to consume and do some basic communications work. You can tune into webinars on GoToMeeting, or you can answer some email. You can stay up to speed on RSS-driven news (including your company news, if you've built RSS feeds as a delivery mechanism), and there are some really clever apps, like Square for payment processing (that I mentioned before).
But beyond that, they're not workhorses, and some basic business chores (like spreadsheet stuff) are really frustrating to do on an iPad. For instance, if you're going to have to input a bunch of things, like listings of homes for a real estate company, or updates to inventory for a store, it's just not an easy tool to use. Even if you buy a Bluetooth keyboard or a docking keyboard, you suddenly find yourself stuck with almost-a-laptop. Oh, and you can't multi-task.
I Wanted to Believe
I bought an iPad the first week, because I believe there's some business magic in this old silk hat. But as an owner of an iPad, it's not yet really kicking butt as a business tool. Mind you, my business relies heavily on content creation (like writing this blog), and so maybe I'm not the norm, but I'm not seeing many people MAKE anything on their iPads. I'm seeing them consume.
So Why Do I Miss It?
The iPad is the single best device for electronic learning that I've ever owned. I use it for digital books like iBooks and Kindle books, and I've completed four rather lengthy books on it so far. I use it for consuming audio and video podcasts. I use it for watching documentaries and other movies. It truly is an amazing device for consuming media of different kinds.
Don't ask me whether I regret buying it. I don't. I think there will be some improvements and innovations that come with it. I also think that some businesses will benefit from buying iPads instead of laptops, should their function be mostly for consuming and communication. But in the shorter term? Save your pennies.
Chris Brogan is the New York Times bestselling author of the NEW book, Social Media 101. He is president of New Marketing Labs, LLC, and blogs at chrisbrogan.com.