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iPad's Impact on Business Video Communications Sector

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January 28, 2010

iPad's Impact on Business Video Communications Sector

By Steve Vonder Haar
Research Director and Founder, Interactive Media Strategies
Apple (News - Alert) Computer and Steve Jobs always have had the Midas Touch with the iPod product line.

So, when the company took the wraps off its new iPad offering this week, you had to figure the odds were pretty good for another consumer hit. After all, with the iPad, we’re pretty much talking about an iPod with a really, really big screen. Certainly, nothing is wrong with that.

Let’s operate for the moment under the assumption that the iPad will succeed where other tablet devices have failed. If the Jobs team strikes digital gold with the iPad, the ripple effects on the Business Video market will be quite intriguing to watch.

Out of the gate, naturally, the business communications impact of the iPad will not be quite so apparent. Any popularity the gadget garners will come in the way it packages text and video content in an appealing form factor.

From a media perspective, the vision is nothing short of audacious. Essentially, we’re talking about a device that serves as a gateway and distribution mechanism for all forms of print and video content. Re-defining century-old business models for media companies is not something that happens every day.

Indeed, Apple’s land grab in this market is so massive that it will likely be challenged on multiple fronts by multiple software and hardware makers.

Whatever the outcome of the pending battles, it’s clear that the media tablet wars have begun in earnest. And that’s a good thing for the ultimate development of the business video communications sector.

The sheer size of iPads – and their likely competitors in the media tablet space – changes the context of mobile digital media delivery.

It’s all about what developers can do with screen real estate on mobile devices. For iPods, the best you can hope for – from a multimedia perspective – would be to deliver streaming video content to the device.

That’s nice but only of limited value in the business sector. If you want to deliver a quick executive presentation, a video Podcast may be a viable way to convey your message to the troops. But if you want to do something meatier, like employee training, you probably see value in combining video with other data inputs that help you convey a message, such as PowerPoint slides.

With the iPads nearly 10-inch diagonal screen, it would be conceivable to create “PadCasts” that are akin to today’s rich media presentations that combine video, PowerPoint slides and other data inputs on a single, on-screen interface. Essentially, the iPad becomes a viable venue for distributing today’s business rich media presentations in an appealing, easy-to-use mobile environment.

Sure, these presentations could be distributed to netbook or laptop computers. The difference with tablet approaches such as the iPad is that they are devised from the ground up to foster digital media consumption on a portable basis.

As individuals become accustomed to using their iPads to both read newspaper content and watch videos, a natural evolution will roll towards tuning into rich media “Padcasts” that can streamed wirelessly to an individual’s tablet media player.

It will take a couple years for this evolution to the business sector to happen. First, the tablet devices need to garner acceptance in the consumer market. Once individuals become accustomed to personal entertainment applications, they ultimately will begin exploring ways that tablet devices can be used in the business media and communications environment.

Ultimately, it may be another tablet gadget that finally wins the hearts and loyalties of online business communicators. The lack of a Webcam and the seemingly absent support for Flash Video in the iPad products initially introduced by Apple are significant shortcomings that will limit some of the device’s usefulness for business-oriented applications.

But lots of screen real-estate makes up for a lot of sins – and opens the door for rich media to grab a foothold on a new device genre likely to draw significant market hype and developer attention in coming years.

Whether or not Apple and Steve Jobs (News - Alert) strikes gold or not with the iPad is relatively inconsequential at this point. But it can be said their moves have set into motion events in which their Midas Touch may reach all the way into the business rich media market.

Steve Vonder Haar is Research Director and Founder of Interactive Media Strategies and is responsible for the firm's coverage of the enterprise Web Communications sector. To read more of his articles, please visit please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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