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When Apple announced the release of iPad earlier this week, all hell broke lose in the tech blogosphere including here at Cloud Ave. On a personal level, I am put off by the lack of camera and Apple’s arrogance to wield control on people’s buying habits. However, the idea of iPad excites me on a different level, especially as a SaaS power user and evangelist.
Just when I was planning to write a post on the topic, I came across a guest post at GigaOm by Joe Hewitt, the guy who originally developed the Facebook iPhone application. Even though he is approaching the issue from a different angle, some of the statements he has made in that post completely captures how I feel about iPhone.
I felt strongly that all Apple needed to do to revolutionize computing was simply to make an iPhone with a large screen. Anyone who feels underwhelmed by that doesn’t understand how much of the iPhone OS’s potential is still untapped.
He ends the post with how he feels about iPad as a developer
So, in the end, what it comes down to is that iPad offers new metaphors that will let users engage with their computers with dramatically less friction. That gives me, as a developer, a sense of power and potency and creativity like no other. It makes the software market feel wide open again, like no one’s hegemony is safe. How anyone can feel underwhelmed by that is beyond me.
I am looking at it from a completely different perspective. As a heavy SaaS user, it excites me to have access to my applications from a mobile device that is reasonably bigger than a mobile phone and without the disadvantages of netbooks. iPhone changed the way I used business apps. Coupled with SaaS, my productivity has increased many-fold. Most of the SaaS vendors offer access through mobile phone in one form or another. Some like Mindmeister, Remember The Milk, etc. offer native iPhone applications whereas many others, who are fed up with the Apple approval process, use mobile web applications. In fact, SaaS providers like Google and Zoho (disclaimer: Zoho is the exclusive sponsor of this blog but this is my independent opinion) offer mobile web apps that almost mimics the users’ web experience.
However, my experience with using SaaS apps on iPhone left a lot to be desired. I found the iPhone screen to be too small to have a strain-free experience. I also wanted the keyboard to be a bit bigger to suit my fingers. At times, I also want better processing power to have a more seamless experience. With iPad, I get all of these and more. It is a perfect mobile companion for heavy SaaS users without the clunkiness associated with netbooks. In short, iPad is a great device for any SaaS junkie and, in some ways, magical.