by Tom Kaneshige

Three Ways the iPad Will Change Industries

Apr 02, 2010
Consumer ElectronicsMobileSmall and Medium Business

Hey CEOs and VPs of hospitals, hospitality businesses and media companies: Get ready for a new era of iPad apps and specialty uses.

If you think the iPad is just a big iPod Touch for Fanboy consumers, think again.

The nearly 10-inch touchscreen will open the door to a variety of never-seen-before uses, say iPhone developers. Many developers told about iPad apps in the works. They spoke under condition of anonymity because their clients don’t want them talking about the apps yet.

Whereas the vast majority of iPhone apps are aimed at the general public, developers say that there will be a good number of specialty iPhone apps, and many that will help change businesses in industries in need of innovation. Some 1,000 iPad apps just debuted on a special iPad section of the App Store. iPads, of course, hit the street tomorrow.

iPad apps also won’t be priced like the first generation iPhone apps—that is, free or nearly free—says Krishna Subramanian, founder of Mobclix, an operator of a mobile ad exchange marketplace. Based on iPad apps entering Mobclix’s network, 85 percent will be paid apps and the rest free.

The average price for paid iPad apps hovers around $6. “But there will be a lot of apps around the $10 price point,” Subramanian says.

Here’s three specialty use cases for the iPad:

Health Care: Medical Clipboards Make Way for the iPad

If you think of the iPad as a big clipboard, then iPads for medical staff walking around a hospital and checking in on patients is a no-brainer, says Mort Rosenthal, chairman and CEO of Enterprise Mobile, a systems integration firm.

As hospitals move toward electronic medical records, doctors and nurses will need a way to get at them quickly and easily. With iPhones, though, calling up a patient’s charts or entering data (such as a signature) on a tiny screen isn’t practical. That’s why tablets found a niche market in the medical industry.

Given the iPad’s ease of use, there’s a good chance the iPad will displace clipboards and tablets. One developer in Mobclix’s network who is working on a medical iPad app says he’s excited about the iPad’s ability to record notes, especially voice.

Hospitality: Double Tap for Our Specials Tonight

Two weeks after Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad, a few developers at Macworld Expo in San Francisco had already received iPad app contract work or were in negotiations. Two separate developers mentioned to me that they were working on iPad apps for high-end restaurant chains.

In this scenario, the iPad replaces paper menus. The apps would show dishes and information about them, perhaps even video of certain dishes being prepared. There may be drilldowns that, for instance, give information about a type of fish or spice in the dish.

Both developers told me that the app development deals were still in the early stages, as restaurant chains crunched the numbers to see if iPads could be used in such a way. After all, iPads cost a little more than paper menus.

Media: Newspaper Savior?

The drumbeat of the iPad’s potential to save the newspaper industry hit a crescendo when the Wall Street Journal announced plans for an $18 monthly iPad subscription.

The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg reviewed the iPad and app and had this to say: “I was able to try a pre-release version of The Wall Street Journal’s new iPad app (which I had nothing to do with designing), and found it gorgeous and highly functional—by far the best implementation of the newspaper I have ever seen on a screen.”

Practically all the major newspapers will have iPad apps. Along with the Wall Street Journal, newspapers with iPad apps at tomorrow’s launch include: NPR, the New York Times, USA Today, Bloomberg, the Associated Press and Reuters.

Tom Kaneshige is a senior writer for in Silicon Valley. Send him an email at Or follow him on Twitter @kaneshige. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline.