The Technovore: Tablet computing a fixture of commerce, entertainment

By: Andrew DiLuccia
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I have yet to tap its full potential, but the iPad 2 The Technovore found under the tree in 2011 has been getting a lot of use lately. And I’m not the only one. The rest of the country, and the globe for that matter, seems to be under the spell of tablet computing. Thanks to Steve Jobs, and the folks in Cupertino, the tablet computer has become one of the tech juggernauts of the past few years. Sure, there are other players, but when you own 57 percent of the market (according to IHS iSuppli), as Apple does, you are the trendsetter that is defining the technology. E-reader, email, Web browsing, television, games, etc., the list of tasks tablets can perform is almost endless. And it can be done quickly. Whenever I find myself needing some information, such as when a debate popped up as to what was the last thing actor Jaleel White (aka Steve Urkel from the TV show “Family Matters”) starred in, all it takes is a quick push of the power button and within seconds I’m on Google, answering my query. Don’t get me wrong, Android-based tablets perform these tasks just as quickly. Gone are the days of waiting for the old desktop, or laptop (sorry netbooks, your days are numbered) to boot up, now your technology needs are answered even faster than before. There are even smaller versions that offer you plenty of bang for your buck, i.e. the Kindle Fire (14 percent market share) from Amazon, which has been chipping away at the iPad’s reach, and Barnes and Nobles’ Nook Tablet. But the iPad is spawning new ways to work and learn, and gives folks freedom from the old desktop and laptop. Here in Placer County, iPads are being used as cash registers at coffee houses and are finding their way into schools. At Sheridan Elementary, out past Lincoln, students are getting lesson plans through iPads thanks to a couple of grants. “Our intent was that the children would access their curriculum though the iPads,” Sheridan Elementary School Principal Kris Knutson told our sister paper, the Lincoln News Messenger. “The teacher can see the kids’ iPads on her iPad, and if they are having a tough time on a problem, she can throw that up on the interactive wall and the kids can go up and do changes.” Apple is now providing school textbooks through its app store for use on the iPad. The judicial system is even getting into the groove of using tablet computers. In Lawrence, Kan., judges are using iPads to issue search warrants on suspected drunken drivers. In the medical world iPads are making inroads as doctors use them to monitor patients. But while there are many applications for these devices in the professional and education worlds, there of course is the field of home entertainment. And in some folks’ situations, it’s a lifeline to their social life. For Foresthill resident Jolie Greene, her iPad, a gift from her husband on Christmas, has been a connection to the outside world and a companion for doing battle against boredom as she deals with pain from back problems that have resulted in surgeries and a more sedentary life. “It’s definitely allowed me to be a lot more connected and not feel alone” said Green, who can’t sit at her desk for very long to use her personal computer. “When you’re not able to get out and do stuff, I can still talk to people.” One of Greene’s friends introduced her to the social networking website Facebook, which has allowed her to stay connected to friends and family, and reconnect with others that she hasn’t seen in some time. Her iPad’s email program also allows her to keep in touch with friends throughout the day. Greene’s iPad gives her the ability to do a little window shopping from the comfort of her recliner or bed, as opposed to heading out to the stores, which can be difficult at times. But her tablet also serves as an escape. “When I’m down and I’m having a really bad day, I’ve got to have my iPad,” Greene said. “I really don’t like to sit and watch TV. The last few years have been really tough to sit still. For me, to be inside was really, really hard. Now the TV’s on all the time. But at least I can tune it out and play on my iPad.” During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads, more than doubling sales from a year earlier. Take that number, along with continued growth from other tablet makers and you can gleam a fairly clear picture that much like smartphones, tablet computing is here to stay. Andrew DiLuccia can be reached at, or message him on Twitter at @TheTechnovore.