The iPad and the Cloud: A Missed Opportunity?


Over the past few days, I’ve been pondering whether the iPad (s aapl) could be a truly useful web working tool for me. While Nancy is convinced, I’m still undecided as to whether I could fit it into my work setup. It looks like a great device for consuming web content, but to be able to use it for work, I would want the ability to seamlessly sync my work between the iPad, my MacBook and any other machine via a cloud service (for those interested in cloud computing, check out our Structure conference in June). I’m beginning to wonder how easy that would be, however.

Over on O’Reilly Radar, Edd Dumbill reports that the iPad’s integration with Apple’s cloud synchronization service, MobileMe, falls short. “I would have loved to have switched on the iPad, keyed in my MobileMe login, and automatically had my email, browser bookmarks, calendar and contacts set up for me, as well as the ability to load in e-books through my iDisk, and have my photo galleries available,” he writes. Especially relevant to web workers is that the iWork and iPhoto apps don’t have built-in support for MobileMe.  Dumbill goes on to say that, “Email appears the be the only generally universal way of getting things out of the iPad.” If true, that’s disappointing for such an advanced device, which makes the web such an integral part of the experience, and seems like a missed opportunity for Apple, which prides itself on the design and ease of use of its products. According to a briefing on GigaOM Pro (sub. req.), mobile cloud computing is going to change technology significantly, so it is surprising that Apple is not embracing it. Couple that with reports of Wi-Fi issues, and with John Gruber’s report that you can’t save documents to, only export them from the iWork app, and I’m feeling less certain that I could use the iPad in my daily work.

My questions about the device’s usefulness, how well it works with cloud services, and whether I could fit it into my work setup won’t be fully answered until I’ve had the opportunity to actually try one out myself, of course. And that won’t happen until the iPad is launched here in the UK, likely towards the end of this month.

For those WWD readers with iPads: How easy is it get your work onto and off the device?


Foo Bar

Apple wants you to have to ask them whether you can use a service on the iPad or not. They want to be the gatekeeper of how the thing is used. They don’t want you to buy a $400 device when you could buy a $3000 laptop.

And BTW: The laptop is a very good web working tool. :-)

Jeff B

I have to wonder if this would be a good alternative if it worked well with all Google services. For example: Gmail, docs, calendar and voice.

If worked well with these then the size is very appealing to me. Not an Apple consumer but looks interesting.

Simon Mackie

Thanks, James, but I have to point out that in your post you say that if you want to edit a doc, you need to email it to yourself — that’s not really the cloud-enabled future I was hoping for :)

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