The iPad certainly looks like a lot of fun to have around the house. From games to books to basic web surfing, there’s no doubt the iPad would be a lot of fun in the living room, but how would it fare in the office? Though it may seem the iPad has been designed for all play and no work, I am very excited for the iPad’s potential for business users. Here are some of the cases where I think the iPad will become valuable for mobile small business owners.
Presentation of Business Data
The most valuable business feature of the iPad that I see is its ability to visualize business information. The sleek design and large display simply begs to be looked at, making the iPad ideal for concept presentations, or anytime you want to wow an audience with graphics. With the iPad as your portable multimedia center, pitching at tradeshows and conferences will be simple and effective.
iPad docks with VGA adapters letting you easily connect to monitors or projectors, and iPad apps like Keynote  will allow you to give professional presentations complete with virtual touch screen laser pointer. The best part? With the iPad you can make anything a full color interactive presentation to share with your clients. Imagine scanning and uploading full color paper brochures and adding them into your multimedia presentations along side of video and web forms.
It may not fit in your pocket like an iPhone, but the iPad will certainly let you take all of your business information on the go. More importantly, the larger display will allow you to get more actual work done than with the iPhone’s small screen and tiny keyboard. Apps like iWork  (designed specifically for the iPad), or QuickOffice for spreadsheets, should also take advantage of the iPad’s smooth multi-touch features. My company, OfficeDrop, is currently working on an iPad app that will allow access to scans of all of your paper documents, and let you organize and search your paper (like contracts and research reports) on an iPad optimized interface.
With a “well-app’d” iPad, you’ll always be connected to your office (at least with an AT&T’ 3G data network version). Since so many businesses are using SaaS applications that are hosted online, you’ll be able to access any of your information via specialized iPad apps. Though iPhone apps can already be used on the iPad, use of the iPad will really shine when apps are made specifically for the iPad, utilizing the multi-touch and other features.
Whether it’s CRM, invoicing systems like FreshBooks , or a simple to-do list, the iPad will have a slew of business related apps to make your life easier inside and outside the office. If you already use cloud based services, you’ll not only have constant access to your important business data from your iPad, but will also have the confidence that all of your data is automatically backed up remotely.
Next time you hear someone talking about how the iPad is just an expensive toy, let them know that you think its advantages of connectivity, information mobility, and sleek presentation capabilities will make it a powerful business tool for the mobile small business owner.
How do you think creative small business owners will take advantage of the iPad?