What if the iPad were a PC? Blogger — and three-decade observer of Apple CEO Steve Jobs — Philip Elmer DeWitt mulled over the question earlier this week after viewing an IDC analyst’s take on third-quarter sales.
His conclusion: If it were to be considered a PC, Apple would be the top domestic computer maker, topping Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Acer. If the iPad weren’t considered a PC, Apple would trail the other three — that’s how profoundly sharp the iPad adoption curve has been since it shipped earlier this year.
It’s an interesting debate, as millions of Americans try to figure out just how much they can do with their iPads in their personal lives. Can it completely replace a desktop or laptop PC? With online word processors, spreadsheets, email and calendar apps freely available, most of the things we do on laptops can in theory be done on an iPad.
In the health care arena, it’s not so simple. As doctors push themselves and their IT support staff to creatively wedge the iPad (which is the size of a traditional patient chart) into their lab coats — and workflows — it appears that virtualization will be the answer to many implementation issues. That’s because most physicians need secure hooks into multiple proprietary applications, and IT support staff want physicians to sync their work to servers real-time without saving data locally and risking it being lost or marooned on iPad devices.
But if all this can be accomplished, who’s to say an iPad is not a PC? If it replaces all the functions users derive from their laptop and desktop machines, we’ll concede the top spot to Apple among domestic computer vendors. No matter what pigeonhole you use for the iPad, there’s no denying it’s wildly popular. If it sticks as well as the iPhone has among physicians, it will have a place in health care, and IT staffs will have to make room for it in their device lineups.
Jobs, Google spar
Anyone interested in assessing the viability of iPad competitors running the Google Android OS — many models remain unreleased, allegedly waiting for the next Android rev, which promises to extend their usefulness exponentially — will likely get a laugh out of this week’s exchange between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Andy Rubin.
First, Jobs ripped Android and its tablets in Apple’s third-quarter earnings call. Then Rubin — the admiral of Android back at the Google mothership — fired back on Twitter. Not satisfied with just standing by and watching the fireworks, Iain Dodsworth, developer of popular Twitter utility TweetDeck, jumped into the fray, backing up Rubin. Don’t think for a second this stuff is tongue-in-cheek; they appear to be taking the competition seriously.
We think Android tablets will likely establish a beachhead in health care. The question is, how much of a beachhead? Steve Jobs thinks he already knows, and is brashly predicting that iPad competitors from the likes of Dell and Samsung will be “dead on arrival.” Stay tuned.