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We already know that Apple’s iPad has a huge potential, not only for the casual home user and mobile gamer, but for business and industry as well.  This being, the iPad takes the wild success Apple had with the post-App Store iPhone and iPod Touch, and adds a ton of screen real-estate.  This has the potential to make the iPad the de facto platform for mobile business applications.  However, the fact of the matter remains; the iPad wouldn’t be as useful of a tool if it did not support third-party applications.

In any business, there are certain applications that are absolutely fundamental, and cannot be gone without.  Traditionally, these applications have been desktop-based, meaning an end-user had an actually application installed onto their computer, and they did all of their work from within the application.  This type of setup has been seen as the de facto in many workplace environments.  However this traditional way of going about things also presents one problem; keeping all of the applications in a multi-user environment up-to-date.  For example, in my workplace, we use a certain accounting platform.  Seeing as how the software houses important information, we deploy security updates on a bi-weekly basis.  However, even with only four users using the software, updating four copies can be a tedious process.  This process of ensuring that software is up-to-date becomes a more and more tedious process as the number of end users grows.

However, with the ever growing ease of broadband access, and the sheer speed of today’s computer networks, another option is starting to surface; cloud computing and web-based applications.  With web-based applications, a end user needs no client-side software, for the exception of a web-browser.  Other than that, everything is handled on the server-side, and displayed to the end user via the browser of their choice.  Web-based applications have many advantages.  Firstly, there is no software to update, as everything is handled from a centralized server.  Secondly, web-based applications give an end user the same access and functionality on whatever operating system and supported web browser the user chooses.

This is where the iPad comes in.  The iPad allows an end-user to gain mobility in the places where they can use their web-based applications.  More importantly, because the iPad and built-in Safari web browser count as a browser, organizations that employ web-based applications are going to have a minimal transition period, if any.

Say you are the global programmer for a large group of hospitals.  Your task is to make your existing database, patient records, prescription details, etc. available to end-users via iPad’s.  You can approach this task by creating an application, and using Apple’s deployment methods.  However, doing so will not necessarily ensure that your application is always up-to-date for all of your end-users.  This can ultimately prove to be a headache in the long-run.  However, you can choose another method.  You can choose to simply hand out iPad’s to all of the necessary end-users, and walk them through the process of accessing the web-app, and possibly even creating a shortcut to it.  This way, you know that all of your end-users are always accessing the most up-to-date platform possible.

While some organizations already employ web-apps, there are still a great number that do not.  In the week that it’s been out, the iPad has already shown its potential as a wonderful business too.  It can be used in hospitals, mechanic shops, for inventory control, etc.  This ease of access could potentially make organizations look at moving to web-based organizational tools to make their current setup, as well as the addition of iPads a much easier reality.

While the iPad alone may not fully push organizations to use web-apps, it may be the final push needed to convince businesses and organizations to pursue a more managed, stable, and centralized web-based infrastructure.

Do you think the iPad will have an influence on web-based applications?  Maybe the internet in general?  Feel free to leave a comment as to how you think the iPad influence the internet and how we access information.

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